Ambitions for a major mixed-use development for Chichester’s Southern Gateway could be revived by senior councillors next week.
Chichester District Council cabinet members will be asked to support the principle of a regeneration project and funding bids next Tuesday.
The project would see redevelopment of the area around Chichester Bus Station and garage, Royal Mail depot and law courts – should the latter close as expected.
In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Steve Oates, CDC economic development manager said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to do something special for Chichester.”
Plans to redevelop the area were previously discussed in 2001 but setbacks including the recession halted progress.
Now, with ongoing work on the Chichester Vision – a 20-year blueprint for the city – along with the impending courts closure and government emphasis on growth and jobs, CDC will again attempt to kick start the project.
Leader Tony Dignum, who will discuss the issue with his cabinet colleagues, said he could see the Southern Gateway becoming a mixed-use development, including retail, residential and tourist attractions.
Consultation with residents will help shape the vision for the site.
He said: “The council has wanted to see improvements to the Southern Gateway for some years, but these opportunities have not been realised because of the economic downturn and the development and relocation costs associated with some of the sites. If successful, these bids would enable us to support its regeneration.
“What is important is that our local people – residents, businesses and partners - influence how we develop our city. At the moment, we are asking people on the streets in the city centre what they want to see and in a few months, we will be consulting on options going forward.
“Already, over 20 different local organisations are involved and have been giving us their views. For us, it is vital that we work in partnership with other public sector organisations, residents and businesses to protect and enhance our historic city, while attracting economic growth opportunities and planning for the future needs of the area.”
Funding bids could be lodged with Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership, the Homes and Communities Agency and West Sussex County Council.
CDC could take the lead to progress opportunities, as one of the major landowners.
If the project goes ahead, initial stages would focus on preparing a masterplan, which could be in place by the end of the year.
A report to cabinet read: “The Southern Gateway area has long been seen as an opportunity to make better use of the southern approach to Chichester city.
“Whilst much progress has been made, significant opportunities remain to regenerate the area.
“These opportunities have not been realised as a result of the recent economic downturns, the costs of relocating existing users and the extraordinary development costs associated with some of the sites. These barriers are considered to be surmountable with public sector support.”