Probably one of the most important processes to impact on planning and development in and around Chichester will be the Local Plan. This, when finished and approved, will have legal status and will determine where the major housing developments will go until 2026.
The government has also changed and simplified the planning legislation which gives far more emphasis on permitting development than ever before. Boosting the construction industry is seen as one way to stimulate the lagging growth aspects of the UK economy.
Targets are being set for each district and any reduction in these house numbers has to be stoutly defended on the basis of good evidence or the Local Plan will be thrown out by the inspector. Any Neighbourhood Plan will be subservient to the Local Plan.
The first part of the plan process is now emerging and that is the identification of the strategic sites for major development of over 500 or more houses going out for consultation. The three sites for Chichester are Whitehouse Farm to the west of Centurion Way (west), Old Place Farm (northeast) and Shopwhyke lakes (east).
The main constraint of sewerage treatment at the Appledram works could be solved by a new extended treatment plant in Tangmere, the sewerage being piped from Chichester, although it is uncertain how and when this will happen or how it will be financed given the complex decision process for Southern Water.
There will be little development to the south of Chichester, due to the fact that the improvements to the A27 are unlikely to come forward during this period, together with the sensitive ecosystem of the harbour area. Any major developments to the north of Chichester are equally constrained by the new national park.
Several studies are being undertaken by the district council but many of us are concerned about the fragile environment which is Chichester as an important historical city and the impact of the proposed development; a fact that most of the residents confirmed in the Town Plan produced for and approved by the city council. We need an independent study to confirm Chichester as an important historic city and to determine the impact of some 2,000 new homes and all the associated issues will make on the city.
It would be interesting to see how the planning inspectorate might view the propose development around Chichester if it was a world heritage site. Let’s get that study on the impact of the development on historic Chichester done straight away.
One further thing: can we stop talking about just house numbers and talk about building new thriving (not just sustainable) communities.
The city council, as part of the process for the Local Plan consultation, is preparing a list of community assets which will be in the form of detailed maps and will highlight anything large or small which you feel is important to make your community work and thrive so it can be protected for the future.
Cllr Richard Plowman
Chairman, Localism Work Group
Chichester City Council
Community Assets Project Coordinator