The Society has an interest in preservation, protection and improvement in the City of Chichester and its environs and to this extent the natural environment is is an area of concern.
The term ‘natural capital’ describes the parts of the natural environment -‘stocks’ of waters, land, air, species, minerals and oceans – that produce value to people. The capital generates ‘goods’ such as clean air and water, food, energy, wildlife, recreation and protection from hazards.
Locally, in this context, the Sussex Local Nature Partnership (NLP) was established “to work across sectors and organisations to secure the healthiest ecological system possible thereby protecting and enhancing the natural environment and all that it gives us”. Its Memorandum of Understanding of February 2014 brings together a wide range of interested parties from farming, local and national government, agencies, businesses, NGOs and research organisations represented on an Executive Committee “formed in such a way as to encourage conversations and interactions to promote the emergence of ideas, thoughts and interactions which will then lead to actions”.
The major output from the NLP has been the Natural Capital Investment Strategy for Sussex 2019-2024 adopted on October 2019 and published in December that year. This Strategy was endorsed by the County Council on 19th February who see it as providing “an important part of the evidence base for the development of the Local Industrial Strategy, the emerging West Sussex Climate Change and Environment Strategy and the East Sussex equivalent”. The strategy comes into effect at the end a call-in period which ends 28 February unless the call-in procedure is activated.
The Commission was established as an independent body to advise the UK Government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods. It released its first report ‘Living with Beauty’ on 30 January 2020.
They stress that beauty must become the natural result of working within our planning system. To achieve this result, they have three aims for the system as a whole –
Ask for Beauty
They state these aims must be embedded in the planning system and in the culture of development, in such a way as to incentivise beauty and deter ugliness at every point where the choice arises. To do this they make policy proposals in the following areas:
Planning: create a predictable level playing field
Communities: bring the democracy forward
Stewardship: incentivise responsibility to the future
Regeneration: end the scandal of left behind place
Neighbourhoods: create places not just houses
Nature: re-green our towns and cities
Education: promote a wider understanding of placemaking
Management: value planning, count happiness, procure properly
If you have a view on this please you are welcome to add your comments below.
Robin Hamilton updates readers about the Gateway+ development campaign
This is an update on the Gateway + campaign to offer a dynamic alternative to the Southern Gateway proposal by Chichester District Council (CDC). We see the Gateway+ proposal more as a development of the CDC initiative rather than an alternative. The recognition of the need to develop the southern part of Chichester is in no doubt. It is how this opportunity should be grasped is where we differ.
Please support this initative – we welcome comments added to this post
How we came this far
You may well have seen our previous articles aboutGateway + but in case you didn’t, here is a short synopsisof the history of Gateway+. Early in 2018 a small groupof local residents met to discuss the recently publishedproposals for the Southern Gateway. They felt that CDC’sproposals did not go nearly far enough consideringthis is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do somethingin Chichester that will be a lasting memory of ourgeneration. After some research into what residents andbusinesses would like to happen in this part of Chichesterthe group organised a presentation in Pallant HouseGallery in June last year. The reception by those who attended, and the general public since then, has beenvery encouraging – particularly from the younger peopleof Chichester!
Since then the Gateway+ proposals have been honed to the outline plans we have today.
In summary, we propose a development that would create an Exhibition/ Conference Hall of 100,000 square feet. This would be capable of holding medium sized exhibitions, concerts and performances seating around 2,500 people. We are naming this cultural centre The Forum to hint at the city’s Roman history. Alongside The Forum we propose a 250-bedroom Forum Hotel while in front of The Forum would be a large open area for temporary stalls and socialising named the Forum Square. Our research shows there is a need for some small business starter units with accommodation above which we suggest could be built to the west called the Forum Village. Gateway+ foresees this might develop into Chichester’s Silicon Valley. Finally, we have learnt that NHS England would like to provide a new medical centre for primary care, and Gateway+ proposes a new building currently called The Forum Lozenge which might be renamed the Forum Medical Centre. Our suggested layout can be understoodin the aerial street plan below.
We also understand Network Rail would very much like to consider developing the station and create at least one more platform so that they would have the opportunity to run a metro line between Chichester and Bognor, which would be a vital ingredient to reducing traffic along the A27 and A259. Indeed, the University would also very much like this because their two campuses are served by buses at the moment. Our proposal suggests a new station with high level concourse to house the ticket office and shops with escalators down to the platform. This would also serve to link the Forum to the Southern Leisure Park.
Replace the level crossings
Gateway+ proposals also tackle one of the most contentious issues on the south side of Chichester, which are the level crossings. We propose that both crossings should be removed and replaced with a two-way underpass at Basin Road sufficient in height for single decker buses to pass. Some believe this is not possible, but we have consulted at least two engineers who confirm it is indeed technically achievable.
Simplify the road layout
Gateway+ proposals also provide a solution to the currently chaotic road layout which causes appalling delays and serious environmental problems. As part of this revised layout a new Transport Hub would be situated between the Ave de Chartres Car Park and The Forum, where buses, taxis, coaches, and maybe electric mini trams could operate.
Chichester’s changed political context
As you will all now know there has been a seismic shift in CDC’s political balance after the May local elections. The previous Gateway+ proposals were not adequately received by the previous council whose Masterplan is now well out of date and does not deal with the problems faced by Chichester and its inhabitants. Gateway+ now hopes to promote our ideas to the newly elected council members and we have indeed had very supportive comments from many of those now representing us all. We are particularly encouraged by the support of all parties after recent discussions. We are aware that CDC is assessing interest from developers to their Southern Gateway Master Plan based on a development brief sent out in April 2019. We also understand that Council officers are not fixed on the current proposals and if Councillors or any other parties wish to suggest other schemes, they will take these into account. We see the Gateway+ job is to make sure all Councillors are aware of our ideas so they can reach a much bolder proposal for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance what Chichester has to offer.
Please help Gateway+
We ask you to consider helping in the following ways:
Contact your councillor and ask them to support Gateway+
Discuss Southern Gateway with your friends and encourage them to do the same thing • Let us have your email address so we can keep you informed.
Consider contributing a small amount (say, £10) to our campaign. You can find out details of how to contribute on our website whose address is: http://www.gateway-plus.co.uk/about.
We plan to have a further meeting in the City to update everyone on our campaign. We hope we can count on your support and do get in touch if you wold like more information or would like to get more involved with Gateway+.
We need funds to accelerate our publicity so that we create a groundswell for these ideas. Our intention is to spread the word far and wide so we cannot be ignored by those who will finally make the decision of what is to happen to Chichester’s so-called Southern Gateway.
(This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of the Society’s Newsletter)
Chichester District Council (CDC) explain on their website that : “changes to the way the Government requires us to calculate future housing needs means that we now plan to build at least 650 new homes each year in the Local Plan Area, up to 2035”.
But Planning Policy requires CDC to accommodate only 609 new homes each year; however, in addition, they are under a duty to add an allowance “for accommodating unmet need arising from the Chichester District part of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).”
The SDNPA have a shortfall of 41 dwellings in what they say they can accommodate resulting in an additional 41 dwellings being added to the CDC figure making 650 new dwellings each year.
We question this decision because CDC has so little space on which to build all these houses.
To the north lies the SDNP, to the south lies the Chichester Harbour AONB and then the Manhood Peninsula which is part of the southern coastal plain. The southern coastal plain has some of the highest grade agricultural land in the country comprising highly productive brick earth strata and a climate suited to early ripening crops.
How can the SDNPA fail to provide sufficient space for their own housing needs despite towns such as Midhurst needing to expand?
The Society’s response has been filed and is reproduced below. (A copy of the full submission document can be found here)
(Images from the SDNPA – click on images for full view)
‘The Chichester Society supports this first landscape-led Local Plan for the South Downs National Park. We support the Plan’s Core, Strategic, and Development Management policies.
We particularly commend policies SD4-SD8. (SD4-Landscape Character, SD5-Design, SD6-Views, SD7- Relative Tranquillity and SD8-Dark Night Skies).
We recognise that little development is proposed within the National Park in the vicinity of Chichester, but we support the small housing allocations in the adopted Lavant Neighbourhood Plan and the small housing site at West Ashling (Policy SD95). We are however concerned that major developments on the coastal plain outside the National Park boundary, particularly around Chichester, are likely to result in adverse impacts on the National Park. We hope that the duty to co-operate between the South Downs NPA and Chichester DC will be maintained, and that policies SD4-8 will be at the forefront of all negotiations between the two authorities so that the adverse impacts can be mitigated as far as possible.
Concerning the supply of housing (SD 26 – Supply of Homes), we recognise that National Park Authorities are not required to meet the ‘objectively assessed need’ (OAN) for housing. However, the strict policies limiting development within the South Downs National Park are already causing intense development pressures on areas outside the Park, especially on the West Sussex Coastal Plain which affect Arun and Chichester District Councils. The Society notes several adopted Neighbourhood Plans within the National Park have increased their provision for housing, greater than that allocated by the Park Authority. Local communities across the Park have decided they can accommodate increased numbers, especially if 50 percent of new housing is affordable. The Society would advance this argument by supporting as much housing in Downland communities as can be accommodated without damaging the wider landscape environment.
We are pleased that the Plan recognises that Chichester is the major gateway to the National Park from the coastal plain. We support Strategic Policy SD19c Improvements to walking, cycling and bus connectivity. The extension of Centurion Way to Midhurst, together with proposed linked footpaths/cycleways east of the City to East Lavant and The Trundle, will provide high quality sustainable access to the National Park.
We have one criticism of the Local Plan Policies Map- Western Area: South. The extensive brown stippling across much of this map to indicate ‘Mineral Safeguarding area’ detracts from the clarity and makes it challenging to read. Minerals are already covered by the joint West Sussex/South Downs Minerals Local Plan.’
The setting up of Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns (ACT) reflected the fact that civic societies in a number of cathedral cities and historic towns had becoming increasingly concerned about the tension between the conservation of the historic city/town and varying degrees of population, housing and economic growth. At the same time a number of other groups were highlighting the need to protect and enhance historic cities and towns, which have enormous economic, as well as cultural and social value to the country. These bodies included the Kenwood House Group (which published “Cathedral Cities & Historic Towns“), the Historic Towns Forum and Historic England, which in 2014 commissioned Green Balance to produce a report entitled “The Sustainable Growth of Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns” (plusAppendix relating to Canterbury) which highlighted some of the problems.
The Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns was established in 2015 by a group of civic societies in cathedral cities, under the umbrella of Civic Voice, the national body for civic societies across England. The Alliance was launched at the Civic Voice Annual Conference in Bristol in October 2015. Since then there has been a presentation of its work at the Civic Voice Conference in Chester in 2016 and a further presentation is scheduled for the Civic Voice Conference in Wakefield in 2017.
WHAT HAS THE ALLIANCE DONE?
When ACT was set up it was known that many civic societies were concerned about the pressure on historic cities and towns. However, the nature and extent of their concerns were not known. This led to the carrying out of a survey which involved a questionnaire to be completed by the representatives of civic societies across England – thanks are due to all those who responded to the ACT survey and the staff at Civic Voice who collated the answers.
OUTCOME OF THE RESEARCH TO BE AVAILABLE LATE NOVEMBER
Over the past few months the results of the survey have been analysed and written up and a detailed report on the research will be presented at a special workshop at the Wakefield Conference on Saturday 21ST November. Copies of the report will be available for those attending the workshop. There will also be discussion about the plans for the work of ACT over the coming months, and we hope that delegates to the Conference will come along to give us their views and suggestions.
The research carried out by ACT has already been presented in draft to Historic England and this has led on to two suggestions for further work, both focused on the concerns of civic societies.
First, it was suggested that the results of the research had implications for the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It was suggested that ACT could draw on the research, and on the experience of civic societies, to propose amendments to the NPPF. The DCLG are in the process of reviewing the NPPF. As a result the ACT Steering Group have recently written to the Planning Minister with a number of proposed amendments to the NPPF which, if adopted, would provide more positive planning guidance for historic cathedral cities and towns facing pressures for growth. These recommendations will be presented at the ACT workshop on 21st October.
Secondly, there is the possibility of further research. This would focus on the types of growth and change which can either sustain the character of historic cities and towns – or can damage these places. Historic England have indicated that there is a need for further research into these issues and the ACT Steering Group is currently working on a research proposal which we hope to submit to Historic England for consideration in the near future. This proposal, too, will be presented at the workshop in Wakefield, and comments on it will be welcome.
The ACT workshop takes place at the Civic Voice Conference on 21st October. If interested in getting more involved with ACT and/or taking part in its work contact John Pahl (Chair Canterbury Society) at J.M.Pahl@kent.ac.uk
Acknowledgements: To John Pahl (Chair Canterbury Society) from the ACT Steering Group who provided this background information on the ACT
‘Cathedral Cities in Peril‘ This report published in March 2015 was the result of reflections and debates held by Foster + Partners, English Heritage and Terence O’Rourke MBE, which took place in the context set by the Kenwood House Group. It was prepared to help inform the debate about the expansion of our cathedral cities and historic towns, mainly prompted by the need to significantly increase housing stock.
The Chichester Business Improvement District ran an open meeting on 12 October where the future direction of BID was outlined as were the plans for the 2017 Christmas Campaign for Chichester.
Colin Hicks, the Chair of Chichester BID (shown speaking above) explained the changes in the BID’s organisation and the new focus for the BID Team on driving footfall and leading efforts to improve the dwell-times of visitors to the City. The BID area is funded by the businesses themselves and several BID members have responded to calls to propose ideas to promote the City, three of which will be trialled in the Xmas period. Plans include several nights of mulled wine, mince pies and chestnuts at The Cross and various choristers and performances. The Christmas Lights Switch On (sponsored by Bray Associates) and Firework display (sponsored by Woodland Crafts Events Management) is on November 23 from 5pm.
The BID Team now also enjoy an improving relationship with both public and private partners and is consulted about wider issues of importance to members, such as the Chichester Vision, and tourism and transport policies that are relevant to the City Centre.
Analysis of footfall is undertaken using mobile data. Chichester BID has dedicated footfall cameras along with fourteen sensors that count mobile phones passing in the area within the City centre. These allow us to monitor what brings people into Chichester and where these people go. The sensors have been designed from the ground-up specifically to prevent personal data from being collected. The data is collected by Springboard UK & Noggin.
Cllr Roger Barrow, cabinet member for Chichester District Council, presented a trial ‘Against Litter’ Campaign that he is leading, which will begin in a month’s time. The leaflet to be used can be viewed here.
Janet Tuckett was introduced, who had previously worked for Chichester BID and returns as the members’ part-time Ambassador. This is a new role which involves working with BID area businesses to keep them informed about what is happening in the City and help promote their special events or promotional offers. Janet will also be very much the BID area’s eyes and ears, on hand to assist with any issues businesses may have, as they arise and ensuring these are taken up quickly and dealt with. This will include leading the BID Team in the pursuit of these concerns with the local Councils or other relevant agencies.
Further information about Chichester BID can be found at their website.
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.
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.
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)
Historian and researcher Dr Tim Hudson explains his part in this anticipated revision
Note: The new edition has since been published and an article by the book’s editor, Elizabeth Williamson, on the new edition is avalable here
The Buildings of England series founded by (Sir) Nikolaus Pevsner after the Second World War is one of the glories of British publishing. Forty-six volumes covering the whole country appeared between 1951 (Cornwall) and 1974 (Staffordshire), the bulk of them written by Pevsner himself.
Pevsner was always aware of their shortcomings, however, and said that revised versions would be the ones to look out for. Over the last 15 years or so Yale University Press, continuing the work of the original publisher Penguin, has been bringing out new editions in a larger format, with superb colour photographs to replace black and white ones. The aim in revising is to retain as much as possible of the original books, while updating and expanding the texts as necessary.
Work on Sussex
The 1965 volume for Sussex, by Pevsner in collaboration with Ian Nairn, has now become two volumes, the first appearing in 2013 as Sussex: East. Currently West Sussex is being tackled under the editorship of Elizabeth Williamson, a former Deputy Editor of the series, with myself initially as researcher to the project.
Last year I was asked to undertake the revision of Chichester as well, and as a long-term resident of the area with a background in architectural history I was excited to be more closely involved. Fortunately my remit doesn’t include the complications of the Cathedral and Precinct, to be dealt with by Dr John Crook, a medieval specialist and co-author of the recent Hampshire: North volume of the series. The precinct though isn’t entirely separate from the rest of the city; as an example the east range of the Vicars’ Close has become the shops on the west side of South Street!
Pevsner’s classic arrangement of gazetteer entries is retained for each place covered: introduction; churches and religious buildings; public buildings; and Perambulations, the last section attempting to scoop up everything else into manageable walks.
It’s a great privilege while revising to be able often to see inside buildings not normally open to the public. Luckily most owners and occupiers are willing to grant access when requested; though the published books always make clear that a description doesn’t imply that the same access is available to readers.
There have been many changes in Chichester’s fabric since 1965, with demolitions (much of Somerstown and the extraordinary fantasy called The Grange in Tower Street are examples) and new constructions (some, one might diplomatically say, more appealing than others).
Buildings have often changed their uses, religious ones especially, so that the revision will often refer to ‘former’ this or that. Revisers must keep up to date with what’s going on all the time. Just now, for instance, Chichester’s fine central Post Office in West Street has been vacated; new buildings are going up at the University in College Lane; while the future of the so-called ‘Southern Gateway’ is uncertain and a cause for concern (I hope that the Chichester Society will fight to protect at least the Art Deco Court House at Southgate, and also the wonderful Bus Garage in Basin Road, a building probably known to few).
Most of the Chichester text is by Ian Nairn, a crusading journalist rather than an architectural historian, best remembered for hard-hitting articles in the 1950s and 60s with titles like ‘Stop the Architects Now’. Nairn has a very distinctive voice, but some of his opinions have become outdated. He wasn’t really in favour of building in historical styles for instance (common practice in previous centuries) and seemed to have a special animus against Sir Edwin Lutyens, now claimed by some as England’s greatest ever architect. Nor was political correctness his thing; a comparison of corbels in the Chichester Bishop’s Palace chapel with ‘the effect given in other circumstances by a firm full-bodied woman’ wouldn’t pass the editorial blue pencil today (what circumstances?). Nairn’s best remarks will be preserved in the revision, but there is much that unfortunately has to be dropped or rewritten.
The Chichester Society and the Buildings of England
Chichester did once host Sir Nikolaus as lecturer, though the event didn’t go entirely as hoped (see Newsletter No. 139 of December 2003 for a report). And Ian Nairn himself in the early days visited the city to advise the Society’s chief personnel on tactics. For the reviser of Chichester the 190-odd issues of the Society’s Newsletter have much to offer, for instance the memorable word ‘Chichibild’ (No. 56 of February 1985), coined by Joy Crawshaw to describe the sort of semi-Modernist buildings that plagued the city in the 1970s.
Comments and suggestions for corrections to or amplifications of the text of the 1965 volume are still very much welcomed from members of the Society – something that goes for other West Sussex places as well – this can be done via our contacts form
(This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of The Chichester Society Newsletter)
Plans to strengthen this city’s heritage are explained by John Templeton
Back in 2005 Chichester District Council commissioned a ‘character appraisal’ of the city’s Conservation Area – principally within the city walls and a little way outside. That appraisal has now been updated by the Council, following a public exhibition in April and a six week consultation, and was approved by the Council’s Cabinet on 6 September. Many suggestions made by the public and by the Chichester Society have been included in the latest revisions. As a result the formal conservation area has been extended in the east to include parts of Whyke; but also north-west to Orchard Avenue/Gardens, Central School playing fields and the Brewery Field – which some readers may know as Henty Field.
Subject to public endorsement a further extension at Whyke to include the Oving Road area will be added to the final boundary. To the north, the older parts of Summersdale will also be examined as a possible extension to the Graylingwell conservation area when it is next reviewed.
Responses to the consultation demonstrate overwhelming support for proposed controls on minor alterations to all dwellings throughout the conservation area, to ensure its future protection. We will report on further progress in a future edition of the Newsletter when the review has been completed.
(This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of The Chichester Society Newsletter)