DEBATE: Is Chichester city a ‘jewel’ or does it lack ‘vibrancy and ambition’?

Chichester Cross
Chichester Cross

‘No limit’ should be placed on the level of aspiration for Chichester city centre’s future.

Chichester District Council is set to kick-start a project to seek out new ideas, proposals and opportunities and then to link them in one ‘cohesive vision’.

A Project Initiation Document, which is due to be approved by the council’s Cabinet next week, sets out how and why they hope to put together a vision of ‘what we want Chichester city to be’.

It said that while everyone would have their own views on the city, many felt Chichester is ‘dated’, lacks vibrancy and ambition, does not fully exploit its cultural and heritage base, does not offer a large enough range of shops and facilities, and operates well below its economic potential.

The report says: “Importantly, to fulfil the purposes of the project there should be no limiters to the level of aspiration and there must be a preparedness to fully consider all ideas and proposals whether or not they may be deemed contentious, ‘too difficult’, or have been considered in the past and have been discontinued.”

Although the Chichester Local Plan describes the city centre as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the district, the strategy does not anticipate many changes to the city centre.

The project’s stated aims are to develop and articulate a clear vision for the city, to place this new vision at the heart of future economic and planning policy, and to ensure that Chichester competes strongly against other towns and cities.

This would be achieved by being a popular destination for entrepreneurs and employers, a ‘first class destination’ for shoppers, an attractive destination for day and staying visitors, and becoming one of the country’s cultural and heritage ‘centres of excellence’.

The report says that the project should establish whether they need to ‘protect’ or ‘transform’ the city centre, what the policy should be towards out-of-town retail development, what impact improvements and alterations to the A27 will have, whether a street market would benefit the city, and if Chichester’s public transport services could be better managed.

It also suggests the vision should look at how cultural facilities, such as the Pallant House Gallery and the Novium, the cathedral, and Chichester’s educational establishments could be better integrated into the city.

A steering group would be set up to oversee the work, and would be comprised of officers and councillors at Chichester District Council, as well as representatives from partners including West Sussex County Council, Chichester City Council, Chichester BID, Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and city businesses.

What do you think of the proposals? What would you like to see in a vision for Chichester city centre? Comment below or email the newsdesk.

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