Chichester local plan falls short by 50 homes per year

Aerial view of Chichester cathedral.   Picture: Allan Hutchings
Aerial view of Chichester cathedral. Picture: Allan Hutchings
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DESPITE falling short of the housing quota allocated to it, the district’s local plan is ready to be handed in to the government.

In Chichester District Council’s local plan, an average of 410 homes will be built per year for the next 15 years, plus an average of another 70 a year in the South Downs National Park Authority area.

However, government guidance released last month indicated a need for 530 to 650 homes per year – so the plan falls short by at least 50 homes a year.

Andrew Smith, chairman of the planning committee, suggested he had heard a senior government planning official say the Chichester district is a ‘special case’, so the lower number might be accepted.

He said: “The housing number proposed in the plan is realistic given the constraints facing the district council.”

In Thursday’s council meeting, when the finalised plan was rubber stamped, councillors said the district’s ‘special’ environment meant the lower number should be acceptable.

Executive director of home and community, Amanda Jobling, said the plan tried to maintain the balance between the need for new homes and protecting the environment

Tangmere’s ward member Simon Oakley said: “It has had to cater for the need to build houses to meet real demand, determine whether and how the necessary infrastructure can be provided to sustain development while preserving the character and environment of this area.

“Pressure exists for this council to make provision for far higher build rates.

“That pressure comes from assessments based on central government generated policy.”

The leader of the council Heather Caird also defended the lower housing number in the local plan.

She said: We believe we should defend the numbers we have come to.

“We believe we have a defendable cause here. We’re quite sure we have a special case.”

However a housing plan for East Hampshire was recently thrown out by the secretary of state for failing to hit the allocated numbers dictated by government quotas.

If the local plan does not go through it leaves the district open to more ‘unwanted development’, where developers win at appeal due to a housing shortage in the area.

Mrs Jobling said: “I cannot guarantee that the plan will be found sound, but I don’t think there is a better time than now to submit it.”