Littlehampton residents react to fibre broadband exchange plans

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 07:49

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

‘They want to build a road through our park’ say local residents - Plans for new internet infrastructure could see a building and ‘access track’ constructed in a Littlehampton park.

If approved, the new building would be at the southern end of the park, near to Gloucester Road, with an access track off of Linden Park and East Ham Road.

Some 10 metre tall trees would be lost during construction and replaced with new ones while two generators would be installed to maintain the service in the event of a mains power outage. In a planning statement, City Fibre Holdings said the new infrastructure would bring ‘the UK’s fastest broadband services to households, schools, and hospitals’ as part of the company’s plans to invest £4 billion in a UK ‘full fibre access network’.
“To achieve this, the existing network must be expanded and upgraded,” says the statement.

“This application seeks permission for a new fibre broadband exchange to accommodate high-speed servers.This in turn will enable an improved broadband service to be delivered to this part of Littlehampton and the surrounding area. Since COVID19 and the increase in home working, improving the broadband coverage for Littlehampton and its surrounding areas has become an essential utility.

But the plans – which were met with disapproval on local Facebook groups – have received five letters of objection.

Several of the objectors are concerned about the proposed access track, with one saying it ‘will run within inches of the park’.

Another issued a plea to ‘please leave this park for the children’ and a third said that the park is a ‘godsend’.

“We have very little green space in Littlehampton due to over-development, and now you want to build on a park that is enjoyed by so many,” they added.

City Fibre Holdings Limited says an access track is needed because there is currently ‘no vehicular access to the southern portion of the park’.

The company said the track cannot be located off of Linden Road because it is ‘quite narrow’.

The track would be made of ‘Bodpave’ which allows grass to grow over it and would only be accessed ‘once a month’, according to the company. City Fibre Holdings claims that the site ‘is not visible from most of the wider area’ and ‘does not form part of the main usable area of the park’.

According to the planning statement, the council declared the land as ‘surplus to requirements’.

Environment officer at Chichester District Council, Liz Annalls, said: “There is a moderate likelihood that protected species and habitats could be disturbed or harmed.”

Ms Annalls has now requested that a habitat survey be carried out before the application is decided.

A decision on the application is due by April 26 and more details can be found at the council’s planning portal using reference: LU/61/22/PL.

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