New open spaces, leisure, retail and residential uses top the wish list for a major regeneration of Chichester’s Southern Gateway.
Chichester District Council has invited consultants to bid for the right to produce a blueprint for the project, which will see the transformation of sites including the bus station, canal basin and law courts.
The project was revealed in the Observer in April – but councillors approved a report on Tuesday highlighting a more detailed vision.
Councillor Susan Taylor, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “This is an opportunity for the most amazing and largest regeneration project in Chichester city for many years and offers an opportunity to enhance an unattractive and uninspiring entrance to the city, while at the same time providing new houses and recreational facilities.”
Although only a guide for consultants, a document approved by councillors sets out the council’s hopes for the key sites.
It suggests the bus depot could be suitable for student accommodation or employment uses, with public realm enhancements at the bus station.
The Royal Mail sorting office site could house cafés, restaurants, bars and specialist retail, providing a chance to improve the canal basin area with new open spaces. The report highlights the area as an ‘ideal chance’ for inclusion of public art.
A new access road to the railway station could be built off the Avenue de Chatres car park road, requiring a bridge over the river Lavant.
The Job Centre and 4-6 Southgate, which currently houses offices, including those of the Observer, could be converted or upgraded, incorporating potential cafés and restaurants.
The council notes existing transport issues, highlighting the area as a ‘bottleneck’ and ‘dominated by traffic’. It mentions the potential removal of the railway station and Basin road level crossings and ‘rationalisation’ of the road network.
Consultants have until Friday to submit bids to produce a masterplan for the project. The document will be subject to public consultation in September, with anticipated approval by councillors in December.
Initial talks with landowners ‘positive’
Landowners of key sites part of regeneration plans for the Southern Gateway have reacted positively to proposals during preliminary talks, councillors heard on Tuesday.
Chichester District Council executive director Paul Over told cabinet members on Tuesday it was ‘early days’ but initial conversations had seen all landowners contacted and had been ‘positive to date’.
Mr Over said he hoped to agree heads of terms as quickly as possible.
The council has, meanwhile, submitted funding bids to Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and Homes and Communities Agency to help finance the project.
Further bids to the likes of West Sussex County Council are likely to follow.