Chichester district neighbourhood plans in full swing

112144_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Garland Square, Tangmere'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112144-697)
112144_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Garland Square, Tangmere'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112144-697)

AS the threat of development hangs over rural neighbourhoods, residents are developing documents in a bid to secure the future of their villages and towns.

AS the threat of development hangs over rural neighbourhoods, residents are developing documents in a bid 
to secure the future of their villages and towns.

Tangmere meeting on neighbourhood plan

Tangmere meeting on neighbourhood plan

Neighbourhood plans give communities the chance to have their say on where new homes and developments should be built and influence the type of design.

While real progress is being made by some parish councils and steering groups, others are struggling to merge their ideas with Chichester District Council’s demand for housing.

Fishbourne Parish Council chairman Geoff Hand described preparing a plan as a ‘sharp learning curve’.

Recent months have seen residents across the district joining forces against ‘inappropriate’ planning applications, with some 
parishes trying to work their plans around imminent appeal decisions.

Lavant villagers are waiting to hear if plans for 92 new homes on land known fondly as the daffodil field will be upheld at appeal.

An application for 50 new homes in Bracklesham was upheld at an appeal in September and residents have been told of plans for 220 more homes to be built on nearby land. If approved, the total would take housing numbers in the parish far beyond those allocated by the district council in the local plan.

Tangmere is one of the ‘big four’ – areas which have been identified as strategic housing locations in Chichester District Council’s local plan, set to be submitted to the secretary of state before the summer.

The plan includes 1,000 homes in Tangmere, a further 1,000 on land to the west of Chichester and 500 in Shopwhyke and Westhampnett.

But Tangmere parishioners say they will struggle to balance the council’s demand for housing against its own ability to provide sustainable infrastructure.

Tangmere Parish Council has been asking residents to get involved with developing the neighbourhood plan before 
large-scale development proposals are submitted.

With plans afoot to circulate a parish questionnaire, residents will also address their ‘eight areas of concern’, including: access to infrastructure and services, business and employment opportunities, housing location and tenure, transport and accessibility, the green environment, history and heritage, education provision and community sports and leisure activities.

The parish council plans to 
produce a neighbourhood plan by the end of the year.

Chichester District Council’s cabinet addressed the issue of neighbourhood plans on Tuesday.

It was resolved councillors would receive training to act as a liaison between parish councils and the district council.

Kirdford district councillor Josef Ransley said the neighbourhood plans required an ‘enormous amount’ of work, having spent the past three years helping formulate Kirdford’s – one of the furthest ahead in the country.

The initial recommendation was for district councillors to be on the parish’s steering group. However, cabinet members raised concern about having too much sway on a parish’s plan.

Councillor John Connor said: “Having observed Mr Ransley’s trials and tribulations over this process, what I’ve seen and heard reinforces my 
initial view that maybe the member is not the right person to be in a steering group.

“The role of the member should be to advise, to facilitate and to observe rather than actually take part in it.

“I know what a councillor’s role is in the community, but I’m not sure that taking an active part in the steering group is the best way of going about it.

“I think there may be a temptation for members to drive the process too much, rather than letting the residents of the community do that.”

Councillor Eileen Lintill added the proposed workshops would be about members ‘understanding exactly what’s been expected of them’.

To this end, the wording of the decision was changed to include ‘liaison’, so ward members could help and advise parishes.