Selsey high street conservation plans anger town councillors

Selsey high street
Selsey high street
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Plans to incorporate Selsey’s high street in a new conservation area have angered town councillors who say it will stifle much-needed redevelopment.

Chichester District Council is proposing the new conservation area, to be called ‘Old Selsey’, to the east of the town, in order to preserve the town’s rich character.

Selsey Town Council, while welcoming it in general, wants to omit the main shopping area, fearing it will make it harder to gain planning permission to improve the ‘horrible’ buildings which have ‘blighted’ Selsey for decades.

Speaking at a Chichester District Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Selsey vice chairman Andrew Brown said: “Blanketing an entire high street which the majority is a ‘60s, ‘70s feel, how can that be a conservation area when it mixes with older buildings?

“You have thatched cottages in some parts, and horrible 1970s constructions in there. It has caused some anger within the town council, we feel we’re not being heard by the district.

“We have been democratically elected by our community, we have gone out and engaged with people, more so than district council officers have, and we have come back and fed in that people do not want to have a conservation area in the high street because planning process itself can protect the areas of interest.

“We feel it stifles redevelopment and if CDC just rolls over us and lets this go through, it doesn’t really support the democratic process.”

He pointed to the old NatWest building as an ‘eyesore’ that needed redeveloping, while adding that Medmerry Primary School feared if they were included within the new conservation area, it would hamper its expansion plans.

John Conner, Selsey district councillor, proposed including only the northern area of the high street and omitting the southern stretch which ‘has been blighted by developments which are... outstanding in their mediocrity.”

Lone Le Vay, CDC conservation and design manager, said it would not stifle, but instead ‘secure better quality development’ for the high street.

After Cllr Bruce Finch stressed the importance of localism, cabinet members deferred the decision so that officers could engage with Selsey town councillors.

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