Boatyard redevelopment scuppered by flood risk concerns

The redevelopment of a vacant boatyard in the Chichester Harbour AONB in west Sussex has been judged likely to materially harm the character of the area and place future occupiers at risk of flooding.

The scheme involved the provision of a quaymaster's facility (QMF) and four dwellings, the boatyard having ceased operation in the early 1990s. The appellant stated that the site had been marketed for about 10 years and further argued that its continued use for marine-related activities was unviable due to the location and access to the site, tidal restrictions, the cost of demolition and decontamination and the need to improve a foreshore slipway. In respect of flooding the appellant sought to demonstrate that no reasonably available sites existed elsewhere in the district, a point disputed by the council.

In accepting that continued use of the site for boating and marine-related uses was not viable the inspector nonetheless concluded that the height and appearance of the QMF, involving a largely unrelieved expanse of horizontal timber would be visually prominent and incongruous. The four dwellings, between which relatively small gaps had been provided, would result in an intensive form of development and the use of large areas of glass would increase their impact at night as a consequence of light emissions. The use of louvres would do little to lessen their visual impact, he concluded.

A further concern was the location of three of the houses in flood zones two and three. The appellant’s sequential test had examined sites within a strategic housing land availability assessment. But this had not included sites smaller than 0.25ha, that is, sites which could accommodate three dwellings. No consideration had been given to examining sites which might be developed after five years or to windfall sites. Consequently, although the site involved previously developed land in a reasonably sustainable location this did not justify placing houses in areas subject to flood risk. Since the shortfall in housing land was small and the scheme would make comparatively little contribution to the shortfall, which was likely to be addressed soon, this was not a matter to which he gave significant weight.

Inspector: David Hogger: Hearing

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