A reconvened Planning Committee Meeting to discuss Whitehouse Farm will be held at CDC Offices, East Pallant House at 2pm on Friday 11 November. Any thoughts to put further pressure on developers for a Southern access may be fruitless as the developers Miller and Linden Homes threaten to go to appeal. In their letter (viewable here) they state ‘an appeal will be submitted if there is either further deferral or refusal of the application at committee on 11th November‘
‘There are sound and clear cut reasons for refusing planning permission in the absence of any commitment to provide the Southern Access Road prior to the development of the site‘ so state The Chichester Society and the East Broyle, Parklands, Westgate and Orchard Street/Old Somerstown Residents Associations in a joint submission to the Local Council.
They further state ‘ In the absence of any commitment to the provision of the Southern Access to the Via Ravenna roundabout and not to Westgate to be in place before construction of the houses in Phase 1 the application 14/04301 should be refused’.
You can read the full submission here
The Society’s objections can be viewed here.
Proposals: Outline planning application with all matters reserved (except for access) for the first phase of development for up to 750 homes with access from Old Broyle Road, temporary access from Clay Lane, a local centre (with associated employment, retail and community uses), primary school, informal and formal open space (including a Country Park), playing pitches, associated landscaping, utilities and drainage infrastructure with on site foul sewage package treatment plant or pumping station with connection to Tangmere Waste Water Treatment Works.
Society response: A very short period of time was given for a response to be made to the Planning Application CC/14/04301/OUT. In our initial response (click here) Chairman Richard Childs objects to the failure adequately to consult and considers that this Masterplan must be revised to create a southern access route from the start of Phase 1 so that construction traffic can be directed from Cathedral Way roundabout direct to the new development. A more formal response is being prepared.
Meanwhile – The Council invite observations on the above application by 7 June 2016. To view the application click on the application number above.
Albion Water are planning a waste water treatment plant for developers Linden Homes and Miller Homes at Whitehouse Farm, Chichester, West Sussex. The Environmental Agency has consulted on the environmental permit application ref EPR/SB3338AD/A001 and the Chichester Society has, through its Chairman, raised several objections as detailed in a letter than can be consulted here.
Local Plan – What’s been happening?
The Examination in Public (EIP) of Chichester District Council’s Local Plan took a break during the latter half of November while the District Council, on the recommendation of the Planning Inspector, reviewed its original housing target figure of 6,973 new homes to be built during the plan period (to 2029).
When the EIP resumed on 2 December, the Council outlined how it had reviewed its figures and proposed new, increased figures. The total number of new homes proposed would rise to 7,388 homes during the plan period, an increase from 410 per annum to 435. Of this increased number the overwhelming proportion, 250 homes were to be located at the West of Chichester Strategic Development Location, viz., Whitehouse Farm.
Notwithstanding the ‘encouragement’ from the Planning Inspector to review their methodology and maximise the number of homes to meet the objectively assessed need (OAN) for housing, there remains considerable doubt that the Council has come up with a satisfactory figure – anyway certainly not in the eyes of the developers.
The EIP sat for two days at the beginning of December before taking another break.
During the break the Council compiled its Draft Modifications to the Local Plan, which had arisen during and as a result of the Examination In Public. These modifications were approved by the District Council on 22 December.
On 8 January 2015 the modifications were put out for public consultation for a six week period ending on 19 February.
It is anticipated, though not certain, that the following will happen over the next weeks and months. First the Planning Inspector will consider the responses to the consultation on the modifications. A reconvening of the EIP may happen in late March. Sometime later the Inspector’s report will appear. The report may or may not approve the Local Plan.
Meanwhile there is the little matter of District Council elections, not to mention a General Election. The District Council will go into ‘purdah’ in April.
So one thing is for certain, it will be a different District Council, indeed a different Government that will be picking up the loose ends from the long-running saga of the Chichester Local Plan.
Chichester residents will be increasingly aware that the Draft Local Plan proposes extensive new areas of housing plus a small amount of employment on what the District Council calls ‘strategic sites’ around Chichester.
As the Society reviews the developing Local Plan, these sites feel very far short of real strategic planning. Rather they have come to the fore simply as a result of developers proposing patches of land that they own (or have options on). And the Council has not had the resources – or the foresight – to do much more than acquiesce.
Be that as it may, the approval or otherwise of the sites now rests with an Examination in Public in September, when the Plan will be scrutinised by an Inspector appointed by Whitehall. Somehow, this process again seems to fall short of the much-vaunted idea of Localism!
Further, despite this official timetable, the developers are now doing their best to jump the gun. They are preparing plans (as at Whitehouse Farm) and submitting planning applications (as at Westhampnett) in advance of any approval under the incoming Local Plan. Presumably, they see an advantage in being ready to go as soon as the Local Plan is approved, rather than starting from scratch when – or rather if – it is.
Another incentive for developers to push the pace is that, if development begins early, they are likely to be liable for much smaller contributions to local communities, in terms of playing fields, village halls, road improvements and the like.
This is because, at present, developers give back to the community through “Planning Gain” in the form of ‘Section 106’ agreements, which are widely seen as less onerous than the system of Planning Gain through the ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ (CIL) that will come in with the Local Plan.
To oppose this juggernaut, the District Council has invested some effort in erecting defensive screens called ‘Concept Statements’. These are intended to be indications of how the council would like the site to be developed, formulated by ‘community planning’. Which is admirable, you may say, and in principle that is true.
But in practice, the community meetings have been squeezed into a foreshortened timetable. The Tangmere one was brought forward from September to June without due notice, and the Westhampnett one happened before anyone in Chichester City had heard about it!
Local parish councils did know; but the developments are on a district-wide scale and would weld the new strategic sites irrevocably to Chichester itself. This is an extension of the problem of pitting under-resourced local councils against over-resourced developers backed by central government.
Worse, it now appears that these Concept Statements may be worth little more than the paper they are written on. They are apparently only a ‘material consideration’ which effectively means that a developer can ignore them if they can find any reason for doing so.
To illustrate the point, the developers who want to build on the corner of Stane Street and Madgwick Lane managed to get through a 2-hour presentation and question session without mentioning concept statements once; and the developers for Whitehouse Farm mounted an exhibition of their plans for the site before the concept statement for that area has even been published.
We will look back in 20 years’ time and wonder how Local Government ever deserved that name.