Housing target is far too high

We welcome the publication for consultation of the draft plan for Chichester.

While there is much in it to be supported, the overall housing target is far too high. The level of development proposed will adversely affect every resident of Chichester, directly and indirectly, wherever they live.

The removal of the requirements of the South East Plan and its harsh and unrealistic housing figures should have given the community of Chichester a sensible opportunity to regain ownership of planning for their city. However the headlong rush into compliance with the CDC’s interpretation of government policy, on the grounds that without a local plan we will be at risk of developer-controlled planning, is over simplistic and wastes an opportunity for truly sustainable development.

Indeed to many residents it is the draft plan itself that appears to be developer-led.

Therefore at present, we feel the plan’s strategy is unsound. The housing figures rely on a top-down approach based on uncertain future demographic and economic projections. The huge and costly infrastructure works needed just to support the extra houses and population related to the strategic developments alone also illustrates that the overall housing figure is unsustainable.

Although some improvements are promised to the Chichester bypass and to some city roads, there will still be increased traffic and congestion affecting the city’s well-known pinch-points.

An approach based on the much vaunted ‘localism’ promoted by central government would still acknowledge the need for growth, but not by massive amounts and huge development which have been so disappointing elsewhere and failed to compensate adequately the communities required to absorb them.

Therefore we would prefer to see the future planning of our area to be based on the following principles:

:: A reducing rate of house-building

:: All new housing, whether subsidised or market, should be aimed at meeting locally-generated needs rather than general market demand

:: There should be a comprehensive plan to deal with the infrastructure and service needs of the area, rather than the disjointed efforts of recent years.

:: The potential impact of rising sea levels and climate change should be treated seriously.

There needs to be a shared and inclusive vision about what sort of city and district we want for the future. Many residents feel they have been deliberately excluded from the planning process and the plan is being imposed on them. A new approach to public involvement which fosters a spirit of trust and co-operation is needed.

We would very much like to work with the district council on this to help create a ‘People’s Plan for Chichester’, rather than the developer-led one which is in prospect.

Chris Cousins

Chairman

Chichester Residents Association Group