Controversial West Durrington homes site puts block on footpaths

Phil Samuels concerned about private signs emerging on land north of Tescos due to be redeveloped
Phil Samuels concerned about private signs emerging on land north of Tescos due to be redeveloped
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RESIDENTS have vented their frustration at the emergence of private property warning signs along a popular dog walking route within a controversial major development in West Durrington.

The site, just north of Tesco superstore, had attracted fierce opposition last year from protestors dismayed by the proposed loss of trees at Titnore Woods, which had been outlined in an initial application for more than 875 properties.

But the development consortium behind the bid, which includes Persimmon Homes, Heron Homes and Taylor Wimpey, made a successful revised application for a reduced number of 700 properties, comprising of 200 specifically designated affordable housing.

Work on the new site had been scheduled to start later in 2013.

But some residents have felt aggrieved that the areas of land adjacent to several public footpaths at the location should remain open for access until full development begins.

Phil Samuels, of Wear Road, Durrington, highlighted the situation as being a loss of a valued amenity, with few alternatives for walking dogs in the immediate area.

The 52-year-old said: “I’ve lived in the area on and off for 20 years now and always walked these fields with our dogs, so it seems a bit aggressive these signs should suddenly appear. There must be hundreds of people who use this area.

“We knew the development was coming eventually, but why do these signs have to come up now? There have already been a number of attempts made to block up the fields for public access, even though they are right next to public footpaths.”

Douglas Blows, of Canberra Road, Worthing, added: “This is the first time I’ve seen these private signs up and it is a concern. We’ve been walking our dog round here for years and we’ve always thought that if you stuck to the edge of the fields you would be fine.

“I’ve been to all the planning meetings on this development and it seems that everything we’ve suggested to the developers about the site has just been completely ignored.”

Chairman of the Worthing Society, David Sumner, revealed his group had fought the planning application as much as it could, describing the private property signs as being “over zealous.”

He added that the landowners, the Somerset family, had indicated their desire to leave the area after placing the site’s key property, Castle Goring, on the market for £500,000.

Mr Sumner said: “We have been opposed to development on the West Durrington site since 2000 and were able to get a judicial review over it. But there is no more we are able to do on this.

“People have used that area for dog walking for many years, so I think it’s over zealous for signs to suddenly go up in this area stating it is private property, but it has perhaps been done to ward off protesters.

“The problem with many developments like this is that they are cramped and do not have the infrastructure in place, which is the fault of ill thought-out national planning framework.”