Sewerage Problems in Nutbourne…Update

You may remember the below letter published in our magazine last year:

Sandbanks”, Main Road, NUTBOURNE, Chichester PO18 8RT




The Chief Executive

Chichester District Council

East Pallant House

1 East Pallant


PO19 1TY




Dear Ms Sheppard,




The residents of Nutbourne wish to make a formal complaint at the failure to enforce Condition 12 of the above development.  We are most concerned over the failure of Southern Water to construct a new sewer from Priors Orchard/Loveders down Main Road (A259) and School Lane to the Nutbourne Pumping Station.  In Condition 12, Chichester District Council (CDC) required that this work, as specified and agreed by Southern Water and the developer (Seawards), be carried out before any of the dwellings were to be occupied.


Despite the yearlong correspondence, neither Southern Water nor the developer have produced any written correspondence concerning this failure.  CDC declined to pursue the matter, claiming that they had no authority over Southern Water.  These matters have direct public health consequences relevant to the District Council and for which the District Council has both powers and duties.  The original assessment from Southern Water requiring sewer upgrades prima facie suggests the existing network is inadequate for the additional load arising from new housing developments in Southbourne and Hambrook.  Further there is a history of raw sewerage overflow into the Ham Brook from the existing facilities


PRIORS ORCHARD : Condition 12 (foul water drainage)



02.09.15    Southern Water specify work required to sewage passed in accordance with Southern Water letter 02.09.15 ref. SWS Hants S98 000328 as part of Rushby Brewster’s report dated Sept 2016 posted on CDC web Planning No 16/03049  on 22.9.16.


14/02800 decision (02.04.15) Condition 12 specifies “No dwelling shall be occupied until the complete off site foul sewerage disposal system upgrades serving all the properties has been implemented in accordance with the agreed terms”.


22.09.16       16/03049  posted on CDC web 22 Sept 2016 – Decision Condition 12 quotes developer’s report Rushby & Brewster Sept 2016 and Southern Water letter 02.9.15 requiring a new 370 m. sewer down Main Road to Nutbourne Pumping station; upgrading of Nutbourne pumping station; upsizing of 30 m. of pipework in Prinsted Lane.


13.07.17  Developer confirms no change to 375 m. sewer (drawing SPR023/500/P3) : Condition 12 approved in accordance with Rushby Brewster’s report and SW letter 02.09.15.  This report specifies a 375 m. new sewer to Nutbourne Pumping Station, upsize of 30 m. sewer pipework in Prinsted Lane and upgrade of Nutbourne Pumping Station capacity.


20.12.17    CDC responds to Roy Seabrook’s enquiry via Robert Hayes confirming work specified i.e. 375 m. new sewer to Nutbourne Pumping Station, upsize of Prinsted Lane sewer and upsize of Nutbourne Pumping Station capacity.


Jan. 2018  Robert Hayes (Southbourne District Councillor and District Councillor) agrees to arrange a meeting between CDC, Southern Water and some local residents to discuss this matter.


03.04.18    Meeting of 80 residents and Press outside Nutbourne Pumping Station.


05.03.18     CDC enforcement (Steven Pattie) confirms that none of the work has been done. Suggests a “temporary waiver” until the “summer”.


21.04.18    CDC officers and Southbourne elected councillors meet and agree that Seawards are in breach of Condition 12, residents not invited; no minutes.  Occupation of the site continues.


15.05.18    Meeting of CDC officers, Southbourne elected councillors and Southern Water: although a closed meeting, without minutes, I understand that the 375 m. new sewer to Nutbourne Pumping Station was not discussed.  The updating of the sewer pipe down Prinsted Lane, as specified in Condition 12, was not discussed.  However, there was discussion of extensive work to be done further west of Prinsted associated with the Alfrey Close development.  A temporary waiver until the “summer” to allow occupation of up to 20 dwellings (Priors Orchard) before completion of this work, was also discussed.


20.06.18    CDC confirm that no formal application has been made to vary Condition 12.


28.06.18    Dave Fortnum, Southern Water project manager for foul water drainage west of Prinsted, (not specified in Condition 12) confirms verbally that this work is part of the Alfrey Close development.  He stated that this work was unlikely to start before late July and was expected to take about three months.  He has no knowledge of any planned work for a new sewer to Nutbourne Pumping Station.  The upsizing of 30 m. of pipework in Prinsted Lane, downstream of the junction with the Nutbourne Pumping Station rising main, has not been carried out.


01.07.18   Occupation of Priors Orchard dwellings continues.  Residents still await an effective meeting.


13.11.18    No change at all.  Occupation continues now over 20 dwellings. Residents still awaiting effective meeting.


20.11.18   Request to CDC for an update of the situation.  No response by 3.12.19.

Roy  Seabrook                                      Gerry Lynch

on behalf of Nutbourne Residents.



Here is an update:

Inadequate scrutiny of sewerage network


The inadequacies of both the sewerage and the planning systems were laid bare at the Chichester District Council planning meeting on Wednesday 13th March, when a retrospective change to the permitted sewerage system for the Priors Orchard development (app. 18/03215) in Southbourne Parish was approved.


Planning consent in 2017 following Southern Water’s (SW) written specification, required a 400-metre new sewer to the Nutbourne Pumping Station and Condition 12 was laid down in the planning consent.  After private, unminuted and unrecorded conversations between SW, developers and planning officers over 2018, this requirement was quietly dropped.  Instead the 159 dwellings are now connected to an 85-year old 6” clay sewer pipe running underneath a major trunk road (A259 Main Road)) and shared with a 55 plot caravan and camping site.   The change of plan only came to light when vigilant residents realised that the new sewer had not been built.


The SW representative said that revised calculations had greatly increased the capacity of the system.  He made no comment to a resident’s observation that the very expensive AMEC 2018 consultant’s report (page 29) supporting the recent CDC district local plan states that it is unable to find any support by the Environment Agency for the use of these revised criteria.  He also made no comment to residents who pointed out that the progressive use of these revised criteria since the last consultant’s survey (MWH 2010) had resulted in extensive developments feeding in to a fixed and undeveloped sewerage system.  Residents pointed out that the resulting loss of capacity and resilience in the sewerage system resulted in excessive storm discharges for which SW had an unlimited permit.  These discharges into Chichester harbour have progressively degraded the harbour to the point that it’s water quality status is now at risk.


Despite the grave misgivings of most of the elected councillors at the planning meeting, they were instructed by council officers that neither they nor CDC had the necessary expertise to question the activities of SW.  The application to downgrade the sewerage requirement for Priors Orchard was therefore passed.


As a private company, SW’s first priority in law is to its shareholders; it is a total monopoly with no prospect of losing its franchise and this meeting clearly showed that it has no effective oversight in these planning issues.  This episode shows that the system of oversight of planning aspects of our sewerage system is broken and unfit for purpose.  A major overhaul of the system is urgently required if our environment and harbour are to be preserved.


Yours faithfully


on behalf of Nutbourne Residents