"People say to me Chichester is dying. It's not dying, it's changing."
Those were the words of the Mayor of Chichester, Richard Plowman, at the launch of the city council's neighbourhood plan last night (Monday) — a project for which the final ideas 'have to come from the people'.
Chichester City Council's neighbourhood plan was set up in a bid to give local people 'more influence on planning decisions'. The public consultation phase is now live with residents asked to have their say on what changes should be made in the city.
Opening the meeting, mayor Richard Plowman said: "People say to me Chichester is dying. It's not dying, it's changing.
"For 2,000 years Chichester has been changing. It's important that we recognise that and do something about it.
"We've all seen the decline in the high street, particularly retail. We've seen shops closing, some of those which we have known and loved for many years. We need to do something revitalise this."
In its survey, the city council specifically asked residents about the introduction of a nightclub; if there are too many cafés; parking; proposals to build an underpass across the Basin Road level crossing; housing; cycle lanes; green spaces; outdoor events and a potential conference/convention centre. The council also revealed its ambition to make the city carbon neutral by 2030.
Further suggestions included; a large international hotel; an events/performance/exhibition/conference hall; more train and bus services to Bognor Regis and the coast; concert/theatre hall; large nightclub; central medical centre and new crematorium.
Ideas were also put forward by members of the public at the meeting, with a popular suggestion being to put a modern 'bus hub' near the railway station with a shop, café and toilets.
Mr Plowman added: "The city council declared a climate change emergency back in June and that is going to affect everything we do. We need to plan for it for the future.
"Whatever we do with the neighbourhood plan has to fit in with the local plan. We also need to make sure the Southern Gateway, which is one of the biggest developments around, is done right and fits in with the needs of Chichester.
"We have to create a blueprint for the future of Chichester. We have to make this inclusive and account for everybody in Chichester.
"The neighbourhood plan will be made by the people of Chichester for the people of Chichester. When it's done, it will have teeth to do it."
Planning adviser Anna Whitty said the final ideas used in the plan 'have to come from the people'.
She added: "One suggestion was mass tree planting which we can do.
"If you have any ideas or thoughts, please do put them forward either on our survey, Facebook page or pop in to see me on Thursday morning at The Council House [North Street, Chichester, PO19 1LQ].
Paper surveys must be returned to The Council House in North Street.
The closing date for all surveys is 5pm on Monday, December 9.