Villagers’ battle to save field from development lost

Petitioners gathered in Tupper's Field
Petitioners gathered in Tupper's Field

A field hundreds of villagers have fought to protect from development is set to be lost to housing.

Land east of Tye Lane, Walberton, known locally as Tupper’s Field, was promoted by Wates Developments for 175 homes despite widespread objections.

Arun District Council’s development control committee the plans at a meeting this afternoon (Wednesday, September 20).

The decision followed a previous council ruling that the land was not suitable for development.

Addressing the committee, Walberton councillor Robert Wheal said the site had for years been judged unsuitable in Arun documents.

He said: “This application would place a major development in the heart of the village, completely against what the village is trying to do in their neighbourhood plan, and will destroy the rural character of the village.”

A full council vote to deem the site ‘no longer suitable for development’ was approved in July.

It followed consideration by the council’s overview select committee of a petition of nearly 1,200 signature, calling for Arun to protect the field from housebuilding.

Parishioners ultimately want the land safeguarded as a Local Green Space – but Arun has resisted the call.

Council officers warned the July vote may hold limited weight when it came to considering a planning application. Councillors today read a declaration highlighting they would decide the application according to its own merits.

A report to the development control committee highlighted the district’s difficulties in identifying enough suitable land for housing.

This meant that, despite being the plans being contrary to local policies, officers argued it should be approved.

A report to councillors read: “The development will make a significant contribution towards market housing and affordable housing in the district, further boosting the sustainability of Walberton and provide additional open space and community facilities for the local community and deliver a strategic highway improvement to two junctions along the A27 corridor – at Yapton Lane; and Fontwell Avenue.”

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans.

Councillor Paul Wells said: “I sympathise with the speakers.

“What struck me was the improvements to the infrastructure that surrounds this site, unlike some other applications we have seen. That ticks the boxes.”

The Government could request the application be called-in for consideration.