On the evening of 28th February, the Parish Council hosted a public meeting in the new Village Hall to debate the proposed new development of 20 dwellings in the Croft. The Hall was packed with well over 50 people attending along with all the Cocking Parish Councillors and Mr John Cherry, Chichester District Councillor for the local Stedham Ward.
Coffee and biscuits were provided as were the plans of the proposal, which were laid out around the edge of the Hall. When the meeting got under way, Parish Council Chair Frances Russell explained that the purpose of the event was to canvass the views of Cocking residents so that the Council could pass these on to the planning authorities. She also pointed out that the role of the Parish Council was limited simply to being consulted on the matter and that it had no planning powers at all. The rest of the meeting was largely made up of points raised from the floor. A range of views was expressed, but nobody appeared to be totally against the principle of providing low cost housing in the village. Several of those present had stories of having to leave the village to start families or get work and there were even prospective residents of the new development in The Hall.
The three main issues raised were building density, parking and traffic. There were major concerns over the safety of access to and from the A286. Suggestions from the floor included a new road entering the A286 to the north, a roundabout, a speed camera, road narrowing and speed humps. On the parking concerns, the main suggestions were parking at right angles rather than parallel to the green parts of The Croft and reducing the housing density to provide more parking spaces and reduce the number of extra car owners.
Other issues raised from the floor were access for emergency vehicles, the change the development would make to the appearance of Cocking when entering the village from Midhurst and disruption during the construction phase. Councillor Cherry also reminded those present that Hyde Martlet, the developers, needed to make a profit from the scheme.
A straw poll of the gathering came out strongly in favour (about 50 votes to a handful) of a lower density development with fewer dwellings, with nobody against the fundamentals of the scheme.
It was suggested that the fate of the scheme may in fact be decided after 1st April when planning powers pass to the South Downs National Park Authority. This point was not entirely clarified as the Council's web site states the overall closing date as 17th March, no definite date for a Planning Committee meeting and a 'target determination date of 4th May. However, the Parish Council and Councillor Cherry sensibly urged anyone with a view, either for or against the proposal, to contact the District Council either via their website or by post.
To do so, there is a link to the planning application on Chichester DC's website (or just click here) and for reference, the planning application reference is 11/00385/FUL. You can post a comment directly on the web or write to the Council at the address below quoting the application reference.
Chichester District Council
East Pallant House
1 East Pallant
Tel: 01243 785166