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34 The Hornet

17/01110/FUL. 34 The Hornet, Chichester. Removal of Condition 5 on existing permission.

The Executive Committee consider that this proposal is unacceptable because there seems no justification for setting aside the principle of providing for residents’ cycle parking.

With a little imagination, much seems possible. At the moment, the site is given over to dustbins to a remarkable extent, and also of course to cars. Less space devoted to either of these could create space for cycle storage. Also, at the back of the site, there is an unused hard-standing of concrete bridging the Lavant. This could be used for cycle parking (assuming it is within the curtilage of the building, and structurally sound). Alternatively, rather than a single site for a massed row of bicycle racks, there are opportunities to park smaller numbers of cycles here and there around the complex. Another idea might be planters with cycle locking loops attached (such as the “Plantlock”). Such planters would also serve to brighten up currently rather barren corners of the site.

Therefore the Committee objects to this application and asks that the Council refuses permission.

30 East Street Ernest Jones Jewellers

17/01309/FUL, 17/01310/LBC, and 17/01311/ADV.
To alter shopfront, refit internally, and for 1 illuminated fascia sign and 1 illuminated hanging sign.

The Executive Committee considers that the proposal to illuminate the fascia and for a new illuminated hanging sign is unacceptable because it is in contravention of the Council’s Guidance Note for Shopfronts in the City Conservation Area. We also point out that the street number “30” must be incorporated on the fascia.

Therefore the Committee objects to this application and asks that the Council refuses permission.

A Vision for the City Centre – the Society’s wish-list

Society Chairman Richard Childs explains the Society’s wish-list

In March the Chichester Society responded to a consultation on the District Council’s Vision for the city centre over the next 20 years. Our response can be seen in full on the website. This article is a summary of that vision.

We feel that as the main entry points to the city centre, it is vitally important to improve the four gateways. So looking at each in turn our thoughts are as follows:

Northgate
We believe the Northgate gyratory should be abolished and an attractively designed hotel built on the footprint of Metro House. A signal-controlled pedestrian/cycle route on a line from St Paul’s Road to North Street would be of immense benefit to everyone, notably residents.

Redesign Northgate car park to provide a landscaped walkway from Oaklands Way to the Theatre, enhanced with low level bollard lighting. This walkway would be orientated and focused north towards the theatre and south to the Cathedral spire. A signal-controlled pedestrian/cycle junction is required for crossing Oaklands Way, thereby providing a popular alternative to the pedestrian tunnel.

Southgate
Again, we believe that this gyratory ought to be abolished and the northern leg made for two-way traffic. The Crown Court has enormous potential for conversion to a multi-use venue but primarily as a concert hall. The vast spaces of the bus garage would be ideal for large scale gigs. Everyone recognises the canal basin’s scope for regeneration and we support a variety of leisure uses for this location: an hotel, bars and restaurants with landscaped terraces fronting onto the canal. No structures should obscure views of the cathedral and its spire. Create a purpose-designed ‘gateway’ feature at the location of the former South Gate. Move the bus station north of the railway as part of the existing station forecourt. Is this the moment to mention the elephant in the room? The reason for increasing traffic congestion in this neighbourhood is the railway. Why not commission a feasibility-study as one element of a Southgate master plan to provide road bridges in place of the two level crossings?

Westgate
We would like to see a landscaped garden on part or all of the Orchard Street car park. This amenity would be some compensation for the anticipated loss of Westgate roundabout due to highway works associated with the Whitehouse Farm development. Nearby, the untapped potential use of the Cathedral Green can be explored. For example, create several ramps between the raised footpath and West Street – a feature that would be popular with wheelchair users. Remove the diseased lime trees over time and replant. Retain bus stops but place two heritage-type bus shelters outside former Post Office.

Eastgate
This gyratory should also be abolished. We would make St Pancras and The Needlemakers two-way. We would pedestrianise The Hornet to create a quirky shopping quarter on the lines of those in Brighton or Lewes, all of which are flourishing with small traders since pedestrianisation projects. Kwik Fit must be relocated to the city periphery and in its place developed retail space for small units from St Pancras through to The Hornet. Small retail units would fit well on the North and/or East side of the Cattle Market car park. Parts of this substantial area could become a covered market, of the kind seen in almost all French towns. Such buildings can be extremely attractive.

The City’s Night Time Economy – adding pizzazz
We would like to see the city centre become even more attractive through imaginative floodlighting. This would focus on the principal elements of the city’s urban character: buildings like the Council House, the Guildhall, St Olaves Church, former Corn Exchange, St Pancras Church and St John’s Chapel; but also historic structures such as the City Walls at Jubilee Park and Westgate Fields, or the Bell Tower & St Peter the Great, or the Gateway to Canon Lane. This city could become famous for its ‘lighting festival’ timed during the Christmas season and the Festival of Chichester in June-July.

Increasing City Centre Accommodation
Proactive policies and programmes can encourage owners of retail and office space to develop surplus accommodation, ideally for flats or small business units.

Protecting Chichester’s Special Character
Chichester’s “Special Character” owes much to its rural setting and rural features of much of this city. These aspects need greater acknowledgement and protection possibly through the medium of existing design guides. For example: hedges rather than fences, wooden street furniture rather than big-city steel and plastic. Planning policy should seek to “knit together” the street scene, without too many stand-out, statement buildings. New buildings within the city centre should aim to be quietly sympathetic rather than shouting for attention. But even where the occasional “statement building” is permitted it must be sensitive to its neighbours.

And finally, the Society would like to

  • Improve the appalling state of the city centre’s pavements.
  • Provide a high quality Tourist Information Centre in North Street under the Council Chamber with glazing in the arches.
  • Use architectural competitions for larger development sites to ensure high quality design.
  • Provide more seats in the city centre, particularly in South Street and Southgate.
  • Re-open public toilets that have been closed in recent years.

Could any of these aspirations come to fruition in years to come? While recognising the constraints, not least finance, we can hope – and indeed this is why the District Council has sponsored such a wide ranging public consultation. Hope. An important word; there’s even a website dedicated to poetry with hope!

(This article and the following comment originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of the Society’s Newsletter)

WHAT’S NEXT?

Steve Oates, CDC Economic Development Manager and Chichester Vision Project Manager, comments: “We received a strong response to our six week public consultation. Subject to any further amendments, it’s anticipated the final Vision will be adopted by Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, Chichester City Council and Chichester BID during July. From that point the work really begins! A delivery plan and team will be formed to ensure the aspirations and ambitions set out in the Vision become reality over the next couple of decades”. 

An impression of Little London car park with a purpose built outdoor market area and open amenity space
(Image: Chichester District Council, ‘Chichester Tomorrow… A Vision for Chichester’)

Restoration Man – Cedric Mitchell on the implications of being the owner of a Historic Listed Building

The Pallants are an ancient area in Chichester. Originally known as the Palatine (of the palace) these four streets belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury and this situation persisted until the nineteenth century.

The Four Pallant Streets

In medieval times it was an area of commerce with many malt houses and other merchant properties. In 1724 Daniel Defoe wrote that Chichester was “not a place of much trade, nor is it very populous”, having a population of just 400 souls. The eighteenth century though was a time of expansion and much of the town was re-built in brick giving birth to a flourishing brick industry. In this century many of the houses in the Pallants became “gentrified”, some being completely re-built and others leaving a timber structural frame to be clad in brick according to the Georgian fashion.

The view presented today is that of a fine Georgian street but this hides the much earlier beginnings of the streets. In particular 9 West Pallant, sporting a handsome Georgian façade dates back to the early Tudor period and internally there is much to remind one of this. After the last war many of these wonderful buildings were listed Grade II to ensure that they are preserved. In recent years there has been a tendency for the commercial occupiers to move from the area and this has led to many houses reverting to residential use.

Today most of the houses are in residential use and they certainly make elegant homes which are a delight to the eye. However, with elegance comes responsibility. In effect the owner of a listed building becomes a caretaker of the heritage. Unlike many ordinary properties where the building might be extended without planning permission under the Permitted Development rules if you are the proud owner of a listed building the size of the planning dossier can become quite daunting. For almost every alteration no matter how small and application for Listed Building consent is required which includes a Heritage statement and a Design and Access statement. In addition you may well also need planning consent. The Pallants are of course within a conservation area, so account is taken of the effect of any alterations on the surrounding area. So plenty of pitfalls and professional advice is seriously recommended.

By way of illustration I give by way of example a project in West Wales with which I have been involved and which was recently the subject of a Restoration Man programme on Channel 4. This particular project was unusual in that it involved both a listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. Another fly in the ointment of this project was that over the thirty or so years it took to complete the project legislation changed and rules were altered.

Thirty years ago my client bought a gazebo which had been built on top of a medieval tower forming part of the town walls in Pembroke. The gazebo and the surrounding piece of garden had once formed part of an elegant 18th century house on the high street but which had been separated because the owners lacked the means to restore the gazebo.

The 18th Century Gazebo

The gazebo was in a ruinous state and the accommodation, which it offered, was limited to one room on each of the two floors. In order to make the property useable it would be necessary to extend it. So plans were drawn up and we consulted with CADW (the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage). After several visits and much discussion CADW gave their blessing and we applied for planning permission which was eventually granted with many conditions. With paperwork secure we employed a contractor to commence the works. Because of the existing town walls (which we were not allowed to touch) everything for the work had to be craned over the wall. All went well to start with and much of the structure for the new extension was completed. Then disaster struck. After three months the contractor suddenly went bankrupt bringing the work to a sudden halt. My client was quite distressed by this turn of event s was so fed up that he walked away from the project.

Unfinished business

A hiatus of over two decades ensued before I received, quite out of the blue, a phone call from my client suggesting that as he was now retired it might be a good time to resurrect this project.

Early in 2014 the documents for the project were retrieved from the archives and dusted off. Over the intervening years my client had had time to think more about the project and some changes were necessary which involved Planning applications and Listed Building consent. In the meantime the construction drawings were prepared and a new contractor engaged to carry out the works. So far so good.

The only way to deliver materials

By April 2014 the contractor had been on site for several weeks when one morning a lady from CADW turned up on site and told us that we must cease work immediately as we did not have planning permission for the work which we were undertaking!

The lady from CADW explained that although we had all the correct planning consents including Listed Building consent for the 18th century gazebo we had no consents for the medieval tower on which it sits. For this we needed to apply for Scheduled Ancient Monument consent. I did point out that the work which affected the medieval tower had been carried out thirty years previously. My pleas fell on deaf ears. We would have to apply for ancient monument consent which she said, had we applied for it thirty years previously it would have been refused! My response was that in that case she would have no alternative but to refuse consent following which my client would involve CADW in a very costly lawsuit. After several months permission was granted but with a rider that CADW did not approve of what we were doing.

Despite the amazing tangle of planning paperwork the project was successfully completed in 2015, although it has to be said that there were two zeros on the contract price compared with the original contract.

Worth it in the end!
The moral of the story is that it is a wonderful experience to own a listed building – but never do anything without sound advice.

Chichester’s BID creates a buoyant City Centre

We speak with Chairman Colin Hicks about the Business Improvement District

Newsletter readers may remember Chichester’s BID received a boost just before last Christmas. A ballot among city centre retailers and other business resulted in a clear majority in favour of BID continuing its work to improve the city centre for everyone. On this hopeful foundation BID’s management board has been taking stock of its contribution to Chichester life.

The Chichester BID – some background

Business Improvement Districts, or more simply BIDs, are partnerships between all the organisations and individuals who want lively and successful city and town centres. They started in Canada over 40 years ago, came to Britain in 2004 and began at Chichester in 2012. This is because BIDs are regarded as making a positive difference, injecting management and money to build a hopeful future. BIDs are funded by a levy on those paying non-domestic rates. They must be agreed by a ballot of local businesses and are renewed every five years. That’s why there was a ballot in Chichester last autumn: the first five years – BID 1 – had expired. The numbers involved are perhaps surprising: in the Chichester BID area (within the City Walls) are over 700 businesses: about half are retail (shops) and a fifth offer food or drink; the rest provide commercial and inter-business services.

What has Chichester’s BID achieved?

Most obviously, the Christmas lights! The 2016 switch-on attracted our largest crowd ever. Less obvious are the many behind-the-scene activities to increase the city centre’s viability. For example, installing new digital ‘footflow’ counters to monitor ‘people movement’ – knowing whether numbers are rising or falling is important. The BID also promotes Chichester and its events and attractions by regional advertising to encourage visitors. When they arrive we help them get orientated. Have you noticed the many map boards in car parks? They are there because of BID. And have you noticed the leaflet-style street maps in purpose-designed dispensers around the city centre? BID printed 150,000. It’s a small thing, but a free street map can be really helpful to visitors. A last example of behind-the-scenes efforts is improving the city centre’s security – it’s called Chichester Businesses Against Crime (ChiBAC) and has been quietly successful.

One of Chichester BID’s initiatives is to use flags to enliven the street-scene (Photo: Chichester BID)

Chichester’s city centre is changing

It will not have escaped your notice that pedestrian streets everywhere are changing. Shopping is migrating to the Internet which now accounts for some 17% of UK retail spending. So there are fewer shoppers on the nation’s high streets, Chichester included. But those still coming seek other opportunities whilst in town: coffee, a meal, visit an exhibition; take a stroll around the park. This is a shopping experience you cannot get on the Internet: knowledgeable personal service often from an independent retailer, the chance to try on clothes, an impulse buy at the farmers’ market.

Keep those tills ringing!

Chichester has plenty to offer residents’ and visitors’ changing habits and tastes. In retail jargon this city is a ‘multiple shopping destination’ but it’s also a town with a successful University and College; and it’s alive with arts, culture and heritage of national importance. Over the next five years 2017-22 the BID 2 team will continue to maintain partnerships with local government and others like the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Chichester. The BID’s task is straightforward: to increase the city centre’s viability and keep those tills ringing!

(This article appears in the June 2017 Society Newsletter –  join the Society to receive this Newsletter and enjoy other benefits)

150 St Pancras

17/00946/FUL and 17/00947/LBC. 150, St Pancras, Chichester. Change of use from A1 and C3 to A3 restaurant.

The Executive Committee welcomes the putting back into use of this listed property. There is concern at the consequences of the change of use on the historic fabric and therefore asks that the Council’s Historic Building Advisor is consulted on the alterations which are not included in the submitted information.

221 Whyke Road

17/00940/DOM. 221 Whyke Road, Chichester. Single storey side and rear extensions and loft to become habitable space.

 

The Executive Committee considers that the proposal is unacceptable, the extensions being 2 storey represent overdevelopment, affecting the outlook and causing loss of daylight to the neighbouring houses both sides, and the front fence treatment adversely affecting the outlook from the Conservation Area. Therefore the proposal contravenes aspects of the CDC Guidance Notes on extensions and alterations to residential properties. The light pollution from the ground floor extension roof-lights should be mitigated by the requirement for blinds.

Therefore the Committee objects to this application and asks that the Council refuses permission.

7 North Pallant

17/00919/TCA. 7 North Pallant, Chichester. Notification of intention to fell 2 no lime trees.

The Executive Committee consider that this proposal is unacceptable because these trees are an important element of this part of the Conservation Area. The removal of the TPO for these trees should be resisted.

Therefore the Committee objects to this application and asks that the Council refuses permission.