Chichester’s draft local plan to be discussed

Chichester,'picture by Allan Hutchings (111872-812)
Chichester,'picture by Allan Hutchings (111872-812)

KEY issues arising from the draft local plan public consultation earlier this year will be presented to councillors tomorrow (Thursday, July 18).

Members of Chichester District Council’s development plan panel, which is not open to the public, will receive a report on the plan.

The consultation saw hundreds of residents share their views on the draft plan outlining development in the district from 2014 to 2029.

After Thursday’s meeting, the results of that consultation will inform the final draft of the plan – the pre-submission draft.

If approved by the council in September, it will be subject to formal consultation in October and November before being sent to the secretary of state next spring.

The council hopes the local plan will be adopted in autumn, 2014.

The draft plan outlines key development targets including thousands of new homes, 25 hectares of ‘employment land’ and associated infrastructure.

It identifies a target of 6,973 homes from 2012 to 2029 – equivalent to 395 homes a year – not including areas in the national park.

The target includes four main areas:

Planning permissions and identified housing sites, 1,984 homes

Small sites of fewer than six homes, 664

Strategic sites, larger and mixed-use sites of at least 100 homes, 3,550

Parish housing sites of less than 100 homes, 775.

The strategic sites include the ‘big four’ – west of Chichester, Westhampnett, Tangmere and Shopwyke, which has already been approved – and three smaller sites, yet to be identified, in Southbourne, Selsey and East Wittering/Bracklesham.

When it was released, officers said without the plan the council may lose the ability to control development, resulting in a planning-by-appeal situation.

This view appears to have been backed by recent appeal decisions, including Park Farm in Selsey, where the planning inspector granted permission, citing a lack of identified housing sites in the district.

However, the plan was met with mixed reactions when unveiled to residents and parish councils.

While some welcomed the chance to shape development in the district, others questioned how open the consultation truly was and whether it was already a ‘done deal’.

Readers’ letters described the number of houses as ‘overwhelming’ and the development of some sites as a ‘desecration’.