Keeping up the Appearance and Character of Little London

Rosemary Hodge illustrates how residents’ constant vigilance is protecting this neighbourhood

The Chichester Conservation Area Character Appraisal describes Little London and East Row as “Georgian streets of a mix of historic industrial buildings, houses used for commercial purposes, humble terraced houses and elegant double fronted houses”  – and that’s how this historic area should be kept. In the past three years the residents have been challenged with over 60 planning and discharge of condition applications.

Maintaining a secluded courtyard feeling.

The demolition of Little London Walk in 2013 and the construction of the new TK Maxx store has been a major project. It was disappointing that the case for keeping the arcade of small local shops was lost but the residents were pleased that the final agreed plan at least showed that the trees in the Little London entrance to the new store, which were to be removed during the construction phase, were to be replanted. That was until a revised plan for the courtyard electrics was passed by Chichester District Council (CDC). This showed no trees but some strange electrical junction boxes. Heather Hall, CDC Historic Buildings Advisor, picked up on these boxes which resulted in the owners of the TK Maxx site submitting an application for the erection of four kiosks in the courtyard.

TK Maxx courtyard

Henry Whitby, CDC Tree Officer, was consulted about the lack of landscaping which resulted in the application for the kiosks being withdrawn in September 2016. A revised application is awaited that will hopefully return this part of Little London back to the secluded courtyard that has been there for years.

Saving public art

The Old Museum at 29 Little London had been left to deteriorate since the city museum was moved to its new home in Tower Street. CDC, the owners of the site, were granted change of use to residential in 2013. At the end of 2014 Elberry, a local developer, bought the property. Revised plans for the conversion were submitted which raised concerns over the setting and long term maintenance of the John Skelton sculpture Symbol of Discovery which stood outside the entrance to the Old Museum.

John Skelton sculpture ‘Symbol of Discovery’

After a lot of discussion with CDC and the developer, the sculpture has been retained in its original setting, with new cobbles and some suitable planting – and is now lit at night.

Saga of 1A East Row.

In February 2015, as the T K Maxx store was nearing completion and the Old Museum was being converted, a planning application was submitted by the owners of 1A East Row – the County Council’s former Social Services offices. An old warehouse had been demolished in the 1970s to make way for this rather unprepossessing building.  Most residents hoped that at last the building was going to be replaced with something more in keeping with its surroundings. When we saw the plans, they were for four townhouses with integral garages – ‘a suburban design in a sustainable urban setting.’ The design was completely wrong for this location.

Meetings, letters of objection and letters to our councillors culminated in the application going before the CDC Planning Committee.  The application was not refused but was deferred ‘for discussion.’ Not wasting any time, one of our residents contacted the owner of the site and arranged for the residents to meet him. Fresh plans were shown at this meeting – without the integral garages. The revised plans fitted better into the streetscape and took into account most of our objections. When submitted the revised plans, to our dismay, had been altered again, not all for the better but acceptable. These plans were resubmitted to CDC Planning Committee and were eventually permitted in April 2016.

Then, in July 2016, it was discovered that the 1A East Row site had been sold to Elberry – the same developer as on the Old Museum site – and they planned to convert the building into six flats! The site has permitted development rights for conversion into residential, so no chance of any objections. Residents immediately arranged to meet with the developer to see the new plans. Concerned about the look of the building, there was interest in the plans. Revisions were submitted to CDC and planning permission granted in September 2016: work is well under way.

Always keeping our eyes open.

Little London residents are vigilant to any building work carried out in this area to ensure that it has been through the correct planning procedure and that the work is in keeping with the historic surroundings. Now to tackle the County Council about broken and dangerous paving on the street: several attempts by various residents appear to have been ignored….

(This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of The Chichester Society Newsletter)