Local plan set for further scrutiny

The land West of Chichester which could be developed
The land West of Chichester which could be developed

COMMUNITIES could soon have less opportunity to influence development in their parishes, it appears from a council report.

A series of modifications to the blueprint for the Chichester district’s future looks likely to be approved by cabinet and full council on Monday at a special meeting, prior to going out to public consultation.

Since the end of September, Chichester District Council’s local plan has been under fierce scrutiny from government inspector Sue Turner and a host of developers and planners.

Many of them have queried points in the plan, which cost the council nearly £1m to produce in three years.

It lays out the future of the district until 2029, highlighting areas for new homes, economic growth, managing the environment and more.

Now, the council looks likely to make a number of modifications, subject to consultation, as a result of these public discussions.

Among the changes proposed is an amendment to a paragraph dealing with the environment.

The paragraph originally read: “In order to encourage high quality development a number of methods will be used including neighbourhood plans, masterplans, area action plans, development briefs and supplementary planning documents.”

However, the council seems required to change this to read: “In order to encourage high quality development a number of methods may be used if appropriate, including neighbourhood plans, masterplans, development briefs and supplementary planning documents.”

The replacement of ‘will’ with ‘may’ and the insertion of ‘if appropriate’ appears to throw doubt on how much weight a parish’s neighbourhood plan could hold in the future.

A modification was already agreed in November by the district council to increase the housing numbers in the plan from 6,973 new homes by 2029 to 7,388, with an additional 80 homes for Bracklesham and East Wittering, 85 for Chichester and the surrounding area, with an extra 250 provided by 2029 at the Whitehouse Farm site west of Chichester city.

A public expectation is planned to start around January 8 and should last six weeks.