Council faces big questions over local plans

May I congratulate the Observer for the comprehensive coverage last week on the Chichester local plan that has been published ahead of the formal consultation process. However, I have some concerns that are raised by the content of some of the articles.

On the front page you boldly state ‘YOU DECIDE’, suggesting the plan may in some way be influenced by the public opinion expressed during the consultation process. Regrettably Chichester District Council has already determined where the strategic sites will be and how many houses are in the plan, and that will not be changed by any amount of comment from the community.

On page 3 the leader of the council asks the community how they feel about the efforts CDC have made ‘to protect this beautiful area we all love’.

For residents in Tangmere, Shopwyke, Westhampnett and the Broyle Road. I suspect their response will not be as supportive as Heather Caird would wish.

On the same page Cllr Duncton claims the plan ‘makes sure we can grow at a modest pace, in a fashion we are comfortable with and in a way that protects aspects of our area that are most precious’. Tangmere currently has 1,100 houses, and does not consider a further 1,200 over the plan period to be either modest or comfortable.

On the same page, Heather Caird claims the plan blueprint will result in a financial bonus for the district, including money to protect those communities that deliver new homes, ‘for example the creation of a village hall or play area’. No comment here about resolution to the A27 gridlock that currently blights the whole community, nor about a sewage system that manages to spew untreated sewage into people’s homes when it rains, nor the lack of employment that sees residents travelling to Portsmouth and East Hampshire on a daily basis.

On page 4, while claiming victory for the rejection of a planning application in Donnington for 112 houses, county councillor Margaret Whitehouse pointed out 112 homes in Donnington represents an 11 per cent increase in the parish size. Residents in Tangmere and Westhampnett would be over the moon if this plan only created an 11 per cent increase in their parish.

Pages 12 and 13 provide an excellent in-depth analysis of the major issues facing the community as a result of this plan. The item on development constraints lists the major problems of transport, sewage, protection of the harbour and flood risk that face the district.

One thing that is absent from the entire reporting on the plan is the question Tangmere and other parishes have been asking of Chichester District Council for months.

If the constraints are so huge, and the district so precious, then why is the plan not rejecting the housing numbers proposed, and offering to provide only the affordable houses that our current residents and their children will need over the plan period, as other district councils have done for their community?

This plan is facilitating the influx of London and home county residents that wish to retire here, rather than focusing on the existing community, their children and their housing needs.

I sincerely hope this question is asked by all respondents to the consultation, and hope CDC will find some method of addressing it for the protection of the community they have now.

Andrew Irwin

Chestnut Walk