News story

Pagham coastal spit: planning application to protect housing in West Sussex

Natural England says it won’t block a planning application to cut through the spit at Pagham, West Sussex.

The channel at Pagham, West Sussex
The channel at Pagham, West Sussex © Natural England

Natural England met local residents in Pagham to confirm it won’t block the planning application submitted by Pagham Parish Council to protect houses from erosion along this dynamic stretch of coastline.

The growth in recent years of the coastal spit at Pagham in West Sussex has led to increased erosion of the beach and subsequent risk of erosion and flooding to nearby properties. The local community has campaigned for their preferred option to cut a channel through the spit to decrease erosion at Pagham beach.

Natural England’s area manager James Seymour met community representatives in Pagham today (28 January) to share the revised advice Natural England is providing for both Arun and Chichester district councils and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) ‘the planning authorities’.

Natural England recognises the significant problems posed by the coastal erosion at Pagham and understand how distressing and difficult it is for those who are affected. Natural England is committed to helping the community in any way that it can to support their search for a solution that ensures protection of properties and the unique environment of Pagham.

James Seymour said:

We want to make it crystal clear that we are not standing in the way of this planning application. We are confident the work to submit the current application provides a clear basis for addressing the environmental issues. The planning authorities will now be able to consider all aspects of the project.

Natural England clarified its advice from earlier this month to make it clear that it can work with the community and authorities to deal with any environmental reasons why planning permission cannot be sought, and help the authorities work through the legal process needed to support a legally robust decision.

During the meeting Mr Seymour also reassured residents the consultation regarding a potential new marine Special Protection Area (SPA) for foraging terns within the Solent and along the Dorset coast, will not make it harder to get planning permission, as this is already being taken into account.

Mr Seymour praised the hard work of the community’s representatives, their consultants, the local authorities and Environment Agency in considering and identifying solutions to protect the wildlife of the area, whilst progressing with the option preferred by the local community to cut a channel through the spit to decrease erosion at Pagham beach.

The planning application can now be considered by the planning authorities. Natural England has advised the planning authorities on the steps they should take in relation to the environment before being able to reach a legally-robust decision on the environmental considerations.

This stretch of coast is one of the most important in Europe for wildlife, providing habitat for breeding and overwintering birds, aquatic creatures and is one of the best examples in the country of a dynamic coast. This means the area has a number of protections under environmental law. Natural England’s statutory role is to provide advice, so that any impacts on this special wildlife are considered during the planning process. Natural England is now satisfied that those environmental concerns are being considered fully to enable this proposal to proceed.

Natural England’s desire is to help achieve the best long-term outcome for the local community and the unique environment of Pagham. In the interim Natural England has continued to give consent to beach management works requested by Arun DC to reduce the erosion risk to the properties in the short term.

Further information

Contact Natural England senior press officer Heather Duncan on 0300 060 0555 /07775 410 141 for further details:

  1. More information is available on the consultation for Solent to Dorset Coast potential SPA. The consultation is open until 21 April 2016.
  2. Natural England advises that the MMO will need to undertake a Stage 1 Marine Conservation Zone Assessment test of the potential impacts on the Pagham Harbour Marine Conservation Zone.
  3. Natural England advises that the lead authority should undertake an appropriate assessment in accordance with the Habitats Regulations.
Published 28 January 2016