Debate on Chichester local plan future starts today

C121159-1a  Stock Chichester Cathedral  Photo Louise Adams''Chichester ENGSUS00120120409132652
C121159-1a Stock Chichester Cathedral Photo Louise Adams''Chichester ENGSUS00120120409132652

THE FUTURE of the Chichester district hangs in the balance.

Starting from today (September 30), an independent inspector will begin a public examination of Chichester District Council’s new local plan, which sets out the layout of the district up until 2029.

The council has spent the past few years putting together its draft local plan, with public consultations and detailed analysis.

However, the next few weeks will show whether the plan can stand on its own feet under the weight of pressure from developers to allow more building, while residents call for less.

The local plan sets out a template to manage house building, environment protection and building sustainable communities in the district, excluding the area within the South Downs National Park.

If approved, all future planning applications will be assessed against the policies in the local plan.

Inspector Sue Turner will conduct the public scrutiny of the plan, which starts at 10am in committee rooms one and two at East Pallant House.

The hearing is expected to last for two weeks from Tuesday, with a third week commencing on November 3.

The inspector’s job is to see if the plan meets a number of standards and legal requirements.

A freedom of information request by the Observer recently revealed the plan had cost the council nearly £1m to put together over the past three years.

Speaking when the plan was submitted to the government, the leader of Chichester District Council, Heather Caird, said: “This has been one of the most difficult pieces of work the council has ever delivered. It was always going to be difficult to find the right balance between protecting our beautiful district and delivering sufficient housing for the future. However, we believe we have achieved this through careful planning and consideration.”

The district has argued it should build less homes in total than would be required by objective housing needs, arguing it cannot accommodate all the homes required as it is constrained by the South Downs National Park and Chichester Harbour, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The plan identifies four major strategic sites for large-scale housing: Shopwyke Lakes, Whitehouse Farm, Old Place Farm and Tangmere.

Throughout the weeks, there will be representation from groups and individuals on different aspects of the plan. Visit www.chichester.gov.uk/newlocalplan