A £6m four-storey building proposed for Chichester College’s campus won provisional approval from district councillors, in the face of local protests about the impact on the area.
But a question mark still hangs over the scheme because of an objection from the Environment Agency on the grounds that it would add to pressure on the Apuldram sewage treatment works, which already discharges raw sewage into the harbour during periods of heavy rainfall.
Planning officers said in a report presented at a meeting of the southern area development control committee that if members felt the proposals were otherwise acceptable, the application should be left to officers to determine.
This would enable discussions taking place between the college and the agency to continue, ‘hopefully to a satisfactory conclusion.’ If the agency was not able to withdraw its objection, the application would be put on the agenda for a future meeting of the committee.
This course of action was unanimously agreed by councillors, and it leaves officers able to give planning consent if the waste water issue is resolved.
The committee was told the new 4,400 square metre building would accommodate more than 200 construction students currently based in Terminus Road, plus 48 staff. Most of these already parked their vehicles on the main college campus.
Objectors complained about the height of the proposed building, which they said was too close to Westgate, and about light and noise disturbance.
Concerns were also expressed about a loss of parking spaces resulting from the scheme. A report by planning officers said that while the proposed building would undoubtedly be visible all year round, it would not be overbearing, and it was considered the impact on neighbouring homes was acceptable.
A planning condition was proposed to ensure an open terrace to the north of the third floor was used for access and maintenance purposes only.
‘Considerable discussions’ had been held between the scheme’s architect and the council. Sufficient agreement had been reached for no objection to be raised by officers, subject to conditions being imposed on the choice of brick and other detailing.
The scheme represented an important opportunity to ensure the college maintained and developed its key role in education and community facilities for the district – and raised its profile to ensure it attracted the highest calibre staff and students for the benefit of the community and the district’s economic development.
Area planning manager Peter Filtness said the district council was not involved in the discussions over waste water. One possibility was for the college to introduce water-saving measures into the new building.
It could also fit other buildings on its campus with water-saving devices – this was the sort of thing under discussion.
Julie Sleeman, representing the college, told the committee the new building was a priority: the current leased accommodation in Terminus Road was not fit for purpose.