Outcry has followed a proposal to build a home the applicant is claiming was given planning permission in 1937.
More than 100 objections have been made on the plan to construct a dwelling at Plot 11 of Chidham Harbour Estate, near Chichester, which has been submitted under ‘existing lawful development’.
A barrister’s letter accompanying the application argues the plot has permission in principle for residential development based on layout drawings for the estate agreed nearly 81 years ago.
The drawings pre-date all modern planning law and the Second World War but not the Town and Country Planning Act of 1932, which did not include an expiry date on a permission once granted.
Residents and parish councillors are countering that the house would be built in what is now a garden and the case would open up a precedent for building the rest of estate in the protected harbour area.
Objector Sarah Cunliffe, from Cot Lane in Chidham, wrote that allowing sea front development would be ‘a total and irresponsible travesty’.
She said: “If a planning application can be evoked from 1937 there is something seriously wrong with the Chichester planning process.
“It is not a precedent that should be allowed under any circumstances.”
Resident Peter Moffatt said those opposed to the plan had enlisted their own lawyer to take up the legal issues involved.
His objection read: “This site is in perhaps the most beautiful part of the Chidham peninsula with spectacular views in all directions both of the natural surroundings and the very important bird life.
“It is in an area of increasing value for recreation for the many families who are moving into the new houses in the area.
“If development is permitted here, what chance will there be of resisting it elsewhere on the peninsula?”
Bosham district councillor Andy Collins attempted to ‘red card’ the case due to an ‘exceptional level of public interest’, requesting it be decided by planning committee rather than council officers.
Officers have advised that is ‘not actually possible’ to call in a lawful development application so it would remain a delegated decision but said the council was liasing with its district solicitor, Nicola Golding to obtain a legal opinion on the application.
The full planning application can be found on the district council planning portal under reference 18/00900/ELD.