Fury at wasted Chichester Canal plan cash

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Council chiefs have had to hand back around £250,000 earmarked for improvements to Chichester Canal – because the money wasn’t spent in time.

The £191,410 – plus interest – was to be used to improve the appearance of Chichester Canal Basin and was given to Chichester District Council under a legal agreement as part of the Chichester Gate development.

Under this procedure developers agree to chip in towards different kinds of schemes which will have community benefits, which can include environmental and road improvements, as well as money for services such as education and libraries.

A time limit is sometimes set for the cash to be spent, but not always. The agreements are drawn up when planning permission is granted.

Last week’s meeting of CDC’s overview and scrutiny committee met to consider an interim report on an investigation into what went wrong and how to make sure the same thing never happens again.

Chairman of the Stockbridge Residents’ Association Alan Green, and member of the Chichester Conservation Area Advisory Committee said people were not impressed with what had been done in the area.

“We have been very disappointed with what they have achieved over there, they have invested £250,000 and all we’ve ended up with is a car park with a water feature.

“We were supposed to have some money for trees, but the canal society ended up planting up the planters.

“There was going to be money for public art but we haven’t ended up with any improvement at all.”

Mr Green said the situation with the developer’s money was appalling and there was no reason for it not to be spent.

He also criticised the decision to disband the Southern Gateway Forum set up to look at how the money should be spent, which had just one meeting.

“I have written asking for it to be reconvened because we will be getting more money from the Osborne development and we want to make sure the money is spent wisely.”