Chichester local plan review delayed

Chichester District Council
Chichester District Council

A review of Chichester’s local plan has been delayed due to uncertainty over Government planning policy and the diversion of council resources.

Chichester District Council adopted its planning framework, which does not cover the South Downs National Park, in July 2015, which allocates new housing and employment sites.

The planning inspector scrutinising the local plan expected a review to be completed within five years by July 2020.

This week cabinet members agreed to a revised timescale for the review, which pushes back its completion by four months to March 2020.

Susan Taylor, cabinet member for planning services, explained how the revised timetable still allows the review to be completed within five years.

Officers explained that a Government consultation on a standard methodology for calculating housing need launched in September 2017 had led to ‘uncertainty’ regarding future housing numbers for the district.

They added: “In light of the potential changes to legislation and/or national policy and the nature of the evidence based studies, which have interlinking dependencies, there has been a delay to the timetable for the Chichester local plan review.”

Meanwhile workloads associated with other areas of council planning work have ‘at time diverted resources away from the local plan review preparation’.

The council has also not yet been able to fill new posts in the planning policy team.

As part of the review process the Cabinet also approved a public consultation on modifications made to its Development Plan Document (DPD) for six weeks of public consultation starting at the beginning of February.

It includes allocations for 860 homes in various smaller sites across the district, along with provision for five hectares of office space.

The DPD does not include the larger, strategic development sites such as Tangmere and Whitehouse Farm listed in the broader local plan.

The consultation responses will go straight to the planning inspector scrutinising the council’s DPD, who will then decide if it is sound and can be adopted.