Barnfield Drive changes could pose conflict in Chichester

DESPITE fears for the future of city centre shops, trading conditions placed on a large out-of-town retail development have been dropped.

Alterations to Barnfield Drive retail park were given the thumbs up by Chichester District Council planning committee on Wednesday (January 8).

But the decision, which includes allowing the minimum size of retail units to be decreased, was passed with little drama from objectors or councillors.

Louise Fenwick, chairman of Chichester chamber of commerce, objected last year to the idea of small units.

“As a commercial organisation representing the opinions of 300 members within the Chichester District, we vehemently object to the small units this application is requesting, with a view to the detrimental effect they are likely to have on the city centre retail offering.”

The City Centre Partnership has strongly objected to the plans, saying they will have a ‘detrimental impact on Chichester in the shopping hierarchy’.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, councillor Michael Woolley said the plans would affect the ‘vitality and vibrancy of the city centre’.

However, representatives from Richmond Park residents’ association, which previously argued the scheme would ‘kill off’ the city centre, did not make any representations.

The committee also lifted a string of restrictions on what the shops could sell, including clothing, food, alcohol and toys.

The changes could pave the way for clothing and food stores, potentially bringing the development in to greater conflict with city centre businesses.

Objectors are now preparing for the next fight.

A planning application for phase two of the development – two retail warehouse buildings measuring a total of 10,436 sqm, two ancillary buildings, a petrol filling station and car parking – was submitted in November 2013.

Judith and Colin Smith run a bed and breakfast in Westhampnett Road, Chichester.

They are concerned the development will impact their ‘quality of life’.

Mr and Mrs Smith are concerned the drains around their property – which is often flooded with sewage – are not going to cope with quantities from the proposed development.

A letter from Southern Water attached to Mr and Mrs Smith’s objection letter, said: “Legally, it is recognised that our systems may not always be able to cope.”

Tony Tavinor, from Richmond Park residents’ association has also raised concerns.

“In granting consent for this floodplain land to be developed Chichester District Council is effectively promising local houses and businesses that they will never by flooded as a result of these buildings,” said Mr Tavinor.