LOCAL PLAN: National park could force more homes into Chichester

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THE NATIONAL park could come ‘knocking on the door’ of the Chichester district to take more housing.

A warning was made at the Chichester local plan hearing by Ian Ellis, director of Southern Planning Practice.

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“The national park will do the least it possibly can to meet its objectively-assessed housing need, whatever that is going to turn out to be,” he said.

The South Downs National Park Authority is still in the process of creating a plan.

However, Mr Ellis said previous experiences with Winchester and East Hants local plans gave a clear pointer to what Chichester should expect.

“It will expect that a proportion of its objectively-assessed housing need is met by other authorities. That’s clear from the Winchester and East Hants experience.

“Although much of Chichester is in the national park, a great deal of it isn’t.”

He went on to say the SDNPA would work ‘strongly to export into Chichester and other districts’.

“They can’t very much go north from the Chichester district as they hit the Waverley green belt. They can’t go south because they hit the English Channel.

“My experience is when they go forward with the local plan, they will be knocking on Chichester’s door, saying ‘can you accommodate X per cent because we don’t want to accommodate it here and we don’t have to’.”

In response, the SDNPA’s strategic planning lead Lucy Howard said the park was yet to finalise its decisions.

“The South Downs National Park Authority does need to consider the purpose and duty of a national park,” she said, highlighting its ‘landscape sensitivity’.

Of the Winchester and East Hants plans, she added: “They both passed examination and were found sound in regard to all matters, including housing.”

She said the SDNPA was in the ‘early stages’ of working on its strategic housing market assessment.

“We do realise that if necessary we will be approaching neighbouring local planning authorities but we’re simply not at that stage yet,” she said.