Chichester Society and CRAG comment on draft local plan

A CHARITY has urged councillors to ‘take a deep breath’ on the draft local plan.

The Chichester Society has published a joint briefing with The Chichester Residents Associations Group (CRAG) for Chichetser District Council members.

Society chairman Richard Childs urged councillors not to let ‘urban sprawl’ be their legacy.

He said it was ‘for the benefit, not just of our grandchildren but to safeguard prime agricultural land and the character of our city, coast and countryside’.

The briefing raises several concerns, including the destruction of the ‘uniquely small scale of our cherished city’ by ‘ballooning suburbs’.

“Without care, urban development will stretch continuously from Southampton to beyond Brighton – at the moment the only major gap is around Chichester,” said Mr Childs.

He also raised concerns about housing targets.

“Views and estimates of the right balance between needs and impacts vary greatly, some say 500 homes annually for several years, others think around 400, while others suggest 200.”

The briefing also includes comments from prominent local figures on the draft plan.

Lord March is quoted as saying the attractiveness of the city, and its surrounding areas, were key in bringing businesses and heritage-led tourism to the area.

“The size and scale of the housing proposed will damage our heritage assets beyond repair,” he wrote.

His view appears to be supported in a comment by Rolls-Royce. Explaining why the company chose to set up on the Goodwood Estate, it said: “In particular, this special place, epitomising as it does the best of Britain, was seen as playing a key role in helping to re-establish Rolls-Royce as the world’s pinnacle motor car.

“We are deeply concerned at the suggested location for extensive new housing and employment.

“Development on the scale proposed, within an open area that provides a critical buffer between Chichester, Goodwood, Westhampnett and the South Downs National Park, would significantly erode the core principles that originally led the BMW Group to select Goodwood.”

As reported last week, councillors have approved a series of changes to the draft local plan, with another public consultation now on.

“We have taken time to consider the feedback received, and adapted the plan accordingly,” said council leader Heather Caird.

“We now want to give residents a further chance to provide their views on the main elements of policy that have changed.”