Category Archives: Land

An area of the earth’s physical surface

Proposed land swap involving Bishop Luffa School – give the Council your views

The City Council say there is the potential to swap some parcels of land between the Bishop Luffa School and the West of Chichester development site. This would enable a new extended school for ages 4-18 to be delivered on the West of Chichester Site, adjacent to the newly permitted sports pitches, and the existing school site would then be developed for housing, which would fund the building of the school. Bishop Luffa School are keen for such a land swap to go ahead. The proposal document can be viewed here.

The Council wants to know the views of locals – voting can be done online here or by indicating a preference via the last page in the document – returning it to the Council.

Voting will close on 15 December 2020

The Society’s formal response to Government on planned changes to the planning system

The Society has previously made a response to the proposals via Civic Voice as noted in an earlier post available hereIt has now filed a formal response with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (GCLG) as noted below. (If you wish to view the Government’s consultation document it can be viewed here; the ensuing white paper can be viewed here)

Below is the Chichester Society view on the two planning consultations published by DCLG in August 2020 entitled: Changes to current Planning System and Planning for the Future.  We begin with an introduction which provides some context to our circumstances here in Chichester.


Local planning policy is governed by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This places upon local planning authorities (LPAs) a duty to deliver sustainable development in their area based upon nationally directed Objectively Assessed Need targets for housing (OAN). The NPPF places what is called a ‘presumption in favour of development’ on all planning applications unless it can be demonstrated that the development would be detrimental based on defined policies.

Development in any LPA area is identified by the production of a Local Plan (LP). This must be a robust and clear document that outlines the planning framework and long-term strategy over a 15-year lifespan. The LP in Chichester was adopted in 2015 with a housing allocation of 435 dwellings per annum.  It needed review before July 2020 for it to have remained valid. The LP must be regularly monitored and updated in order to show that the planning authority have a five-year supply of land to meet the centrally allocated Objectively Assessed Need.

Chichester District Council (CDC) began a Review of the Adopted LP in 2016 in order to demonstrate that they had the land supply to meet the OAN of 12,350 dwellings for the remaining period (2016-2035). This means that the council had to be able to demonstrate that it had sufficient sites allocated to deliver 628 dwellings per year and this became the adopted level in the Review.

CDC is tightly constrained in the area that it can allocate for housing development because the majority of the district is located within the South Downs National Park (SDNP) which is its own LPA and is therefore excluded from the Chichester Local Plan Area. Our District also includes the Chichester Harbour AONB, Pagham Harbour Special Protection Area and Medmerry Compensatory Habitat.  All these are excluded from development. This leaves a very limited area of land for housing allocation and inevitably squeezes development into a limited number of areas within the City, on the East-West corridor from Tangmere to Southbourne and on the Manhood Peninsula which is in the Southern Coastal Plain and is very fertile.

Suitable sites for development are assessed via a Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA). Sites from the HELAA are selected and identified for potential future development.

Local opposition to Highways England proposals for the A27 road improvement resulted in cancellation of their proposals.  This has hindered the Local Plan Review as many of the assumptions around road capacity that informed the initial site allocations and transport capacity work had to be abandoned following the scrapping of the scheme by central government. New rules on nutrient neutrality in the waters of the Solent introduced by Natural England in June 2019 have further added to the delay of the Review.

The LP has now become out of date. Its Review is now behind schedule and as of July 2020, CDC can no longer demonstrate a five-year land supply to deliver housing. This leaves our communities vulnerable to speculative applications to bring forward sites within the HELAA assessment, which are by definition regarded as sustainable.  We now live with an Interim Policy Statement aimed at limiting ‘planning by appeal’.

In August the government proposed changes to existing planning law to come into effect later this autumn.

The first was called Changes to current Planning System. It does not need primary legislation. Of particular concern are the changes to the formula used to establish the OAN.  It is calculated that the new formula will result in an increase in the OAN for the CDC area from 628 to 995 dwellings per annum, a large increase.

Secondly and at the same time, the Government published a Planning White Paper called Planning for the Future the object of which is to ensure that at least 300,000 new dwellings are built in England each year. This does need primary legislation and is the biggest change to planning policy since 1947. It is to be achieved by zoning areas for ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ or ‘protection’.  It proposes public participation at the consultation stage when Local Plans are drafted but reduced public consultation later on when development in ‘growth’ areas comes forward – in fact leading to abandoning the need for outline planning applications altogether in many cases. The proposal is that automatic outline permission is given for new development in “growth” areas and for “beautiful” schemes.

At present it can take 5 to 10 years to create a LP and the White Paper aims to reduce this to just 30 months. LPs will be much shorter (a reduction of 2/3rds in size is envisaged).  The new style LP will be just a ‘core set of standards and requirements for development’.  All this will be achieved by making new LPs subject only to the NPPF ‘sustainability’ test, by abolishing the test of ‘soundness’, abolishing ‘sustainability appraisals’ and abolishing the ‘duty to cooperate’.

Once new style LPs are in place it is proposed to limit the time it takes to determine planning applications to just 8 or 13 weeks and to achieve this, the White Paper is suggesting that LPAs must refund application fees if they exceed these periods.

We have made comments on both consultations.

Comments on ‘Changes to current Planning System’.

Below are the views of the Chichester Society on the first consultation Changes to current Planning System:

“Because of the amount of protected landscape (SDNP & AONB) within the Chichester District so little is left that is capable of development and almost all that there is comprises high grade agricultural land in farming production mainly within the southern coastal plain.  With the need to increase food production, this area has some of the most fertile land in England with long sunshine hours capable of high levels of agricultural output.  To destroy this natural resource and instead to build houses upon it makes no economic sense.

 The housing numbers imposed on any Local Planning Authority area should not be determined by the actual size of the authority area but on the size of those parts which have no physical or environmental limits to development. Therefore, we consider that assessment of housing numbers in any District area should be reduced by the omission of those parts:

  • within a National Park,
  • an AONB,
  • of land liable to flood,
  • of grade 1 & 2 agricultural land,
  • of wildlife corridors
  • and of greenfield land important to the setting of the National Park, AONB or City.

In addition, in Chichester, so much of the demand for housing comes from completely outside the area by the insatiable demand from those elsewhere in England seeking to relocate, many for early retirement. Priority in the allocation of new housing should be given to local residents and young people

Comments on the White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’

The Chichester Society has made comment on the second consultation which is the planning White Paper called Planning for the Future set out below:

  • The White Paper proposes the encouragement of public participation at the consultation stage of Local Plan preparation so as to reduce consultation later on when development in comes forward.

Comment: We oppose the limiting of public engagement. Our experience has been that the standard of design falls once development is applied for. We believe that all development should continue to be the subject of individual planning applications. Public engagement is considered essential if the planning process is to be seen as trusted. Paragraph 2.48 of the White Paper states that peoples’ right to be heard in person will be changed at local plan inquiries. Planning Inspectors will be given the discretion over the form that an objector’s representation might take with the ‘right to be heard’ during a public forum removed. The right to appear and be heard could be replaced with the opportunity for an Inspector to call objectors over the phone or ask for further written comments at the Inspector’s discretion. The issue of limited public involvement  becomes even more important when one considers that the opportunity to engage in the planning application process is also being diminished by the new proposals.

  • Making Local Plans subject only to the NPPF ‘sustainability’ test. Abolishing the test of ‘soundness’, abolishing ‘sustainability appraisals’ and abolishing the ‘duty to cooperate’.

Comment: These tests are seen as essential. We are concerned about funding for essential infrastructure.  The White paper is largely silent on effective mechanisms for achieving infrastructure, housing or flood risk.  The removal of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ raises concern as how consideration will be given to resolving strategic cross boundary issues such as major infrastructure. 

  • Involve communities in setting design codes in their area for Local Plans.

Comment: The planning system was previously reformed to address concerns that it was not sensitive enough to local needs and this brought about Neighbourhood Plans.  It is particularly unclear how Neighbourhood Plans will fit into the proposed new zonal planning system.  There is no clarity about the scope and power of Neighbourhood Plans in the new system. The current proposals would appear to reduce the role of Neighbourhood Plans to local design guides. 

  • Altering the system such that all land falls within one of 3 planning zones– a ‘growth area’ suitable for substantial development’, a ‘renewal area’ which means an existing built up area which is considered suitable for development or ‘densification’ and finally a ‘protected area’ where more stringent development controls apply.

Comment: We have concern that public support to agree where ‘growth’ is to take place will be difficult, perhaps impossible.

  • Limit the time to determine planning applications to 8 or 13 weeks and to achieve this, to consider making LPAs refund application fees if they exceed these periods.

Comment: Such pressure is only likely to reduce public confidence in the planning system. 

  • Increase land owner / developer contributions when land is given planning permission for development

Comment: Support

  • Replace paper with digital code: interactive maps, modelling and text messaging.

Comment: Support

CPRE Response to Changes to the Planning System

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has responded  to the Government’s proposed changes to the Planning System.

CPRE believes that planning is crucial to empowering local communities and making
sustainable, liveable places. Ensuring everyone has a decent home, that meets their needs
and that they can afford, is essential to that, both in town and country. Equally, it is vital
that new development is planned intelligently; our countryside is precious and fragile and
urgently needs better management in the face of the climate and nature emergencies.
Critical to this is that land is not lost to development unnecessarily. More new homes are
undeniably needed, and there is plenty of scope to use previously developed urban land
to help address this need.

It is their view, however, that the proposals will mainly hinder these aims, principally
through their reliance on centralised prescription and formulae instead of on judgement
and local evidence. They state that the consultation itself is symptomatic of Government’s apparent reluctance for meaningful input. It asks respondents to comment on a wide range of specific details, but doesn’t consult on the policy principles that underpin the proposals, despite these being often the most important points people will wish to address.

The full response from the CPRE can be read here.

The Chichester Society was one of many organisations contributing to this response – it’s response can be found here


ChiSoc responds to UK Government Consultation on changes to the planning system

The Chichester Society has submitted a response to two Government documents relating to the planning system.

First the Government has published a consultation document on changes to the planning system a copy of which can be viewed here. The consultation ends at 11:45pm on 1 October 2020. Ways for members of the public to respond can be found here.

Second the Government has also issued a White PaperPlanning for the Future’ which can be found here.

The Chichester Society Executive Committee has submitted the following response:

To Civic Voice

The Chichester Society is making the representations set out below to Government on the two planning Consultations.

  • Changes to current Planning Systems, a consultation paper with proposals to improve the effectiveness of the current system. It will be found on this link:

Our comment:

Whereas under current policies the assessment of how many new dwellings are to be planned for in any given district is subject to a cap, which applies as a limit to the number, the new method will remove that cap. In addition, statistical sources for determining the starting number of new homes will now involve the use of the ‘higher of’ of various statistics. The Chichester District Local Plan 2015 which expired in July this year contained a requirement for 435 dwellings per annum. We understand that the number will increase to 995 dpa or thereabouts as a result of the changes now proposed which we consider excessive.

These changes pay no regard to local circumstance. They treat all parts of England in the same way.  We believe that the individual character of our District areas should be assessed rather than our being handed a formula of “one size fits all”.

Because of the amount of protected landscape (SDNP & AONB) within the Chichester District so little is left that is capable of development and almost all that there is comprises high grade agricultural land in farming production mainly within the southern coastal plain.  With the need to increase food production, this area has some of the most fertile land in England with long sunshine hours capable of high levels of agricultural output.  To destroy this natural resource and instead to build houses upon it makes no economic sense.

The housing numbers imposed on any Local Planning Authority area should not be determined by the actual size of the authority area but on the size of those parts which have no physical or environmental limits to development. Therefore, we consider that assessment of housing number in any District area should be reduced by the omission of  those parts:

  • within a National Park,
  • an AONB,
  • land liable to flood,
  • grade 1 & 2 agricultural land,
  • wildlife corridors
  • and greenfield land important to the setting of the any National Park, AONB or City.

In addition, in Chichester, so much of the demand for housing comes from completely outside the area by the insatiable demand from those elsewhere in England seeking to relocate, many for early retirement. Priority in the allocation of new housing should be given to local residents and young people


2          Planning for the Future (The White Paper) will be found on this link:

Our Comment

  • It is proposed to reduce the content of Local Plans. The changes envisage reducing the size of LPs by ‘at least 2/3rds’ by cutting out all lists of ‘policies’ and instead producing a ‘core set of standards and requirements for development’.

Comment: This is a huge task for Local Planning Authorities with limited staff and expertise to create what will need to be site specific sets of ‘standards and requirements for development’ on all areas where ‘growth’ or ‘renewal’ is to be zoned.

  • Encouraging greater public participation at the consultation stage of LPs so as to reduce consultation later on when development in ‘growth’ areas comes forward – in fact leading to abandoning the need for outline planning applications altogether in many cases. The proposal is that automatic outline permission is given for new development in “growth” areas and for “beautiful” schemes.

Comment: We oppose the limiting of public engagement on where new development is to be allocated to that period during the Local Plan preparation. Our experience has been that the standard of design falls once development is applied for. We believe that all development should continue to be the subject of individual planning applications.

  • Making LPs subject only to the NPPF ‘sustainability’ test, abolishing the test of ‘soundness’, abolishing ‘sustainability appraisals’ and abolishing the ‘duty to cooperate’.

Comment: These tests are seen as essential in preventing a ’developers’ charter.

  • Limit content of LPs to that of setting out site or area specific parameters.

Comment: This is a huge task beyond the capacity of most District PLA’s and would need major public engagement to be seen as trusted.

  • Involve communities in setting design codes in their area for LPs.

Comment: Looking at the National Design Guide published in Oct 2019, it says almost nothing about community involvement in setting local design codes which we think it should have done. Communities will want involvement provided they believe they will be listened to.

  • Nationally to set a new infrastructure levy for infrastructure and affordable housing.

Comment: no comment

  • Alter Local Planning Authority (LPA) planning roles to that of appointing a chief officer for ‘design and place making’. The indication is that this may become a ‘statutory appointment’.

Comment: no comment

  • Altering the system such that all land falls within one of 3 planning zones– a ‘growth area’ suitable for substantial development’, a ‘renewal area’ which means an existing built up area which is considered suitable for development or ‘densification’ and finally a ‘protected area’ where more stringent development controls apply.

Comment: We have concern that public support to agree where ‘growth’ is to take place will be difficult, perhaps impossible. We consider allocating land for ‘renewal’ and ‘protection’ will be easier.

  • Limit the time to determine planning applications to 8 or 13 weeks and to achieve this, to consider making LPAs refund application fees if they exceed these periods.

Comment: Such pressure is only likely to reduce public confidence in the planning system.

  • Reduce the time to produce a LP to just 30 months, with the threat of government intervention if exceeded. Give Planning Inspectors holding LP examinations the right to decide who is called to give evidence, the intention being to shorten the process.

Comment: This is a huge task for LPA’s with limited staff and expertise to create what will need to be site specific sets of ‘standards and requirements for development’ on all areas where ‘growth’ or ‘renewal’ is to be zoned.

  • Increase ‘permitted development’ rules

Comment: still under discussion

  • Increase land owner / developer contributions when land is given pp for development

Comment: Support

  • Replace paper with digital code: interactive maps, modelling and text messaging.

Comment: Support


Groundwork proceeds for housing development at Whitehouse Farm

In April 2018 The Chichester District Council approved outline planning application 14/04301/OUT “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 onsite foul sewage package treatment plant or pumping station with connection to Tangmere Waste Water Treatment Works“.

So, what visible progress has been made?

Well, a walk up Centurion Way on 20 April began to make clear – as shown below – the visual and environmental impact that this development will have on Chichester, irrespective of the benefits it will bring to those seeking homes of their own.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

What will disappear as a result of the development?

The first image below is from Google Earth and shows the original natural landscape, pre-development.

Whitehouse Farm area prior to development as seen from Google Earth

The second image shows the local landscape character and context as documented by WYG development consultants acting on behalf of Linden Homes and Miller Homes. It shows what ancient and distinctive features will be lost.

Landscape appraisal Whitehouse Farm development. Sourced from

The third image shows the site plan from the original application and it is relatively easy to visually overlay this over the natural landscape image.

Plan of development site from original application


If you have any comments on this topic please contribute by adding them below.

Sussex Local Nature Partnership’s Natural Capital Investment Strategy is endorsed by the WSCC

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.

Living with beauty – report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

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
  • Refuse Ugliness
  • Promote Stewardship

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:

  1. Planning: create a predictable level playing field
  2. Communities: bring the democracy forward
  3. Stewardship: incentivise responsibility to the future
  4. Regeneration: end the scandal of left behind place
  5. Neighbourhoods: create places not just houses
  6. Nature: re-green our towns and cities
  7. Education: promote a wider understanding of placemaking
  8. Management: value planning, count happiness, procure properly

If you have a view on this please you are welcome to add your comments below.

Chichester’s Southern Gateway – an update

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!

Outline plans

Since then the Gateway+ proposals have been honed to the outline plans we have today.

Revised layout for the Forum development as proposed by Gateway+. Note that all facilities are within easy walking distance of
each other, the Station and other forms of public transport

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.

Aerial perspective of the proposed Forum Quarter created alongside Chichester Station
Chichester Station

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:

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)

Council has extra housing allocation ‘dumped’ on it by SDNPA

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”.

(This is not a proposed development – merely indicative – like a cartoon)










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 to the SDNPA Local Plan Consultion

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) produced a pre-Submission version of their Local Plan  for public consultation from 26 September to 21 November 2017.

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.’

Work of the Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns


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” (plus Appendix 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.


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.


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

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.

Chichester BID Open Meeting and the aim to increase visitors to Chi

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.

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)

Famed Pevsner Architectural Guide updated for Chichester

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.

Nikolaus Pevsner with his wife Lola lunching on the road while compiling
The Buildings of England; he was especially fond of Shippam’s fish paste!

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.

Changing Chichester

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).

Demolition of Somerstown 1964 (picture by John Templeton)

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)

Chichester’s Conservation Area is being expanded

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.

Brewery Field view

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)

City Councillor responds to Pallants RA’s views on the ‘Vision’

The following is extracted from the email of 6 March from Sarah Sharp sent to the RA Secretary Rowena Daniels and is response to Pallant Residents’ Association’s comment on the Vision for Chichester available here

‘Although this Vision has been spearheaded by the Economic Development Team, the rationale behind the Vision, is to bring people together and to offer residents the opportunity to input into making Chichester the sort of place we want to be for future generations. The Vision, in its present state, does not dictate or proscribe – suggestions are made but the key thing is that the Councils are looking for ideas and support from the people we serve to take the City forward. So hence you do see ideas sketched out without all the details of what will happen to such and such a car parking space for example.

It is up to us all to input positive ideas to help shape this Vision. If we do not agree on this, we will see bitterness and unhappiness as the result.

Having said that in your reply to the Council I detect a strong sense that your views are being trampled on by the continual reference to younger people and students in particular. Although your thoughts are affected by your central location and the impacts of noise and unruly behaviour, I think the Councils have wider concerns. (You must be aware too that the City Angels are a voluntary group that can be approached with your concerns. Perhaps some of your residents could volunteer and help out with this community-led initiative and support better and safer behaviour at night). At the moment a large proportion of the students are moving out from the City, the prices of housing here means that less and less young people can afford to live here. Similarly the people who work in our essential services, hospitals and shops are not able to live here. If this trend continues we will see Chichester turn into a City for the well off retired. Although this might appeal, this is not sustainable in the long-term and will undoubtedly prejudice the future economic security of the City. Shops will move out and essential services will become difficult to maintain. This trend will also mean increasing reliance on commuters and more traffic and congestion and pollution leading to more climate change, rising sea levels etc.

I welcome your suggestion to restrict vehicle access into the Pallants but would like to exercise a word of caution: keeping permeability for cyclists is high on the list of my priorities. Cyclists in this City often have a bad name but my Vision is more of a City such as Copenhagen where the cycle becomes the preferred means of getting about for those who don’t have the luck of living right in the Centre for example Parklands and Whyke. With buses costing £2.90 from Sherborne Road for example, for those who are not able to walk this far, owning a tricycle or a bike and riding with courtesy and respect for others would reduce our reliance on cars and increase people’s health. Also many people nowadays rely on internet shopping so deliveries into the Pallants would need to be possible. The other option that could be considered (and has been mentioned in regard to possible changes in Westgate due to the White House Farm development) is rising bollards. This gives access for buses (and residents) but can keep out people travelling through. Permeability for people walking and cycling must remain a priority.

Car Parks are a cause for concern to your residents. I would suggest that as background you could read a couple of reports that you can find on the Chichester Society Website here:

Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns

by the Kenwood House Group
March 2015


Cathedral Cities in Peril
by Foster and Partners with input from English Heritage
and Terence O’Rourke MBE
18 March 2015

These studies of other similar historic Cathedral cities show that to prevent the doughnut effect – which we are risking at the moment – due to the huge number of new large stores on the outskirts of the city – the councils need to reinject life into the City Centre or else it risks bleeding its raison d’etre. Yes, one of the ideas is housing but I would urge you to consider this in a new light. This needs to be of higher quality and should attract big name architects to design more distinctive (not rabbit hutch style) housing suitable for urban living. We have a rising population of single person households. We do need as stated above, to attract some young people here and City Centre living is better for the planet in that people don’t need to rely on a car so much and should start to shop locally. This could, if people embrace the chance, lead to more smaller shops being attracted into the City. I personally would love to see a butcher’s, fishmonger’s, greengrocer’s etc move back into to serve the population with locally produced goods where possible. I hope that we are swinging back in this direction away from the weekly supermarket shop. So some of the plans at least around the Southern Gateway are said to include accommodation which won’t be Executive homes on single plots as in White House Farm but will perhaps echo more the style of housing around New Park cinema where you see a new square with shops and restaurants nestling around St Pancras Church. The Southern Gateway development I believe in on hold as a proper traffic survey needs to be completed before more plans can be started. A new hotel is seen as desirable and an improvement to the Canal Basin area to make this a more attractive space instead of just serving as part of our inner ringroad. These plans are partly financed through some sort of arrangement with the Whitehall department responsible for Homes and Communities. I do not know any of the details as I am only a City Councillor so not privy to these dealings.

The Cathedral area is also included in the Vision as you rightly point out. As most people want to keep the trees, I know that the council will certainly hear people’s views on this, but the wish is floated to make more space available for people to use rather than keeping this as a traffic dominated area. So a piazza has been put forward – when you visit places on holiday, spaces for walking, children playing in fountains on a hot day, plants, even table tennis places or boules in France, benches, flowers – all these sorts of things make you want to linger, relax and unwind. If you think of this street now, the benches are in a line with people dodging to cross safely with all the buses and vans that deliver. Several people have suggested serving the area with small electric hop on hop off buses for the infirm to access the City but keep the big polluting buses out. This will mean a re-negotiation with Stagecoach etc but with a new Bus Bill going through Parliament this opens up more opportunities for sustainable travel, if our councillors wish to chose this.

Regarding benches, the Conservative led majority in the City Council decided to replace all the city benches with recycled plastic ones as these need less maintenance and so will reduce costs in the long-run. I, like you, do not think they necessarily are the most beautiful and actually I don’t see why we needed to get rid of all the old ones. There are far more important things that the money could have been spent on. However I am in opposition so couldn’t influence this decision. I did suggest the old benches should be re-used elsewhere and not just thrown out but I cannot provide you with an assurance that this has been done.

Regarding the original Stakeholder events, I, like you, was surprised that none of the residents associations were invited. I was lucky enough to take part in these as the Chair of ChiCycle (Chichester’s Cycle Campaign)  and 20’s Plenty for Chichester. They were an opportunity for different groups to have their say and suggest ideas but as stated above they did not make the Vision. It is all of us who can mould it and we now have the chance to do so.

Other points: I have not heard of any plans for County Hall area.

There is a Road Space Audit which has also undergone Stakeholder engagement and is yet to come out for public consultation.  This includes a new methods of dealing with traffic coming into the City and attempts to make the City a more attractive place for shoppers and residents. The intent is certainly not to reduce businesses and shops but quite the contrary to make the City a better, more diverse place for shopping.  I do feel sad that your residents have interpreted this Vision as an attempt to close down the City as it is deemed as quite the opposite  we need to open up the City more to people so people have more space and choice.

The Vision doesn’t deal as you say with how people travel in, but with a rising population, we have to think outside having everyone travelling into the City in their individual cars. So we need to promote walking, cycling, bus and train travel and keeping cars further away from the very core of the city in order to reduce pollution.  Having been to the Stakeholder events I can confirm that blue badge space holders will not be kept out and disabled parking will not be reduced.  I agree that that there are not detailed plans for what to do with the inner city car parks, but the space could be used more productively than just for parking eg park spaces, smaller shops, cafes, inner city living as in the Shippams site, play areas…

We all have a chance through the planning system to get involved in any planning application. There is no question of changes going through on the nod and you can register to speak at Planning meetings at Chichester District Council. Nothing is secret regarding planning. You just need to keep a beady eye on the planning applications and things coming up which is a very difficult task for private individuals to do as there are so many plans.

Regarding HGVs councillors and officers are well aware of residents concerns regarding restricting vehicle access to the Pallants and St John’s Street.  Your views are being well represented as can be seen here.

I would recommend writing to Margaret Evans at West Susex County Council email:

Cattle Market Car Park – I have heard of rumours suggesting redeveloping part of this car park but the Road Space Audit sees this as, at least in the first instance, taking some of the strain out of the City Centre congested streets. Yes, this will mean that people will have to walk further, but the distances are not huge and from a Public Health point of view there is definitely a greater need to encourage people to walk and reduce pollution of queuing traffic in Little London and East Street.  There are 2 other large car parks – Avenue de Chartres which is underused – and Northgate so if you look at a map of the City with all the car parks coloured in, I think you will agree with have given over a large part of our city to parking. The idea is that we could use some of the space more creatively.

I hear your Committee’s great unhappiness with what you have read so far, but perhaps you can re-visit this once more and see if you can turn it round and find more constructive, positive things to input into our future health and well-being and happiness as a City. We need this to be a place fit for living for all generations. We need to add shady, relaxed places to be for people when we will be faced with rising temperatures (into the 40 degrees C according to research I have read). This is your chance to influence the final version of the document. Whether it is suggesting solar panels to keep down future residents’ heating bills, human-scale architecture to foster friendly communities, or affordable rents and rates for small independent shops, I urge you to reconsider your objections and add constructive, positive ideas for our Councils to make Chichester a better place for everyone. I know you mention legal redress in one instance but I hope you will come to see that this should not be necessary. Dialogue and getting involved however will be.

Kind regards,
Sarah Sharp
City Councillor for Chichester South

Pallants Residents’ Association response to the ‘Vision for Chichester’

Alison Barker (Retired Barrister-at-Law) and Chair of the Pallants Residents’ Association Sub-Committee on the Response to “The Vision for Chichester  prepared on behalf of the Residents Association the following response which is extracted from the original letter of 28 February to  Stephen Oates, Economic Development Manager

The Pallants Residents’ Association comprises 50 member households in the very heart of the City of Chichester and our voices have not been heard. As an Association of owner/occupiers with a vested interest we are responding, perhaps somewhat strongly, but we think fairly, to your proposals for the rejuvenation of our beloved City, as set out in your document “A Vision for Chichester”.

Is it, we wonder, a complete coincidence that other boroughs (such as Wood Green, London), are using this word ‘Vision’ as a formula for change. We feel we are entitled to know to what extent your views have been influenced by those other entities who have no pride in the past. Make no mistake, we do not intend to allow Chichester City centre to become a sort of ‘satellite’ area – cold, ‘plastic’ and pretend – in short, a city devoid of its present charm and antiquity.

It is glaringly obvious that you wish to drastically alter the City and its confines but you remain, it seems to us, extremely short on substance. Your document (excluding the myriad of pictures) seems to suggest achievement of your aims – your vision for the future – can be accomplished simply by closing everything: the centre, the car parks, the roads, and by cheapening the Cathedral area. We have seen plans drawn by HNW ARCHITECTS for a large semi-circular development at the rear of the WSCC offices. Why do you not mention this in your City plan? We demand the right to know what is under consideration.

Somewhat worrying is that you seem to have taken no account whatsoever of the poor business climate we are experiencing in this country. You keep saying you want to attract businesses, particularly for the young, but what of the small shops fighting to survive at the present time (South Street for example). If these shops close, the City centre will become a desert, and however you ‘toss the coin’ so to speak, no amount of students and up-to-date technology on their part would reverse the situation. With regard to the University Student population (and we shall return to this topic), your document is quite clearly biased in favour of them. What about families? You barely mention them in your Vision. The word ‘family’ appears just once! The quality of other educational establishments is the driver to families with children. What about serving their educational needs?

Quite frankly, we are not convinced that you produced a fair and neutral survey in this regard.

In any event, you have no idea what will determine whether a student stays after graduation and you seek, in our view, to prejudice the lives of those, such as us, who have greatly supported and financially contributed to the upkeep and well-being of the council in general and the City in particular. Your wishes in this somewhat one-sided document are no more and no less than ‘hope over expectation’. Furthermore, you infer, indeed you seem to state on occasion, that the students will be supported by cheap accommodation (whether within the city or just outside). We rhetorically ask where is this money to fund the younger element going to come from? Frankly, you are clearly putting ‘all your eggs in one basket’ – the student basket – and this is an enormous risk is it not?

Please do not misunderstand – should you not pay due diligence to our observations we will seek legal redress if allowed (with consequent negative publicity to your goodselves).

At this stage, and before detailing our objections, and sometimes acceptance of your points, we want to emphasise that we are not averse to change. We feel, however, that your drastic and insensitive view of what is necessary is in danger of altering forever the fabric of our ‘gem’ of a city. Let us remind you, with respect, that the revered antiquarian, Sir John Betjeman, described Chichester as “The most attractive Cathedral City in England“ emphasising that its charm lay in the fact that it hadn’t been “punched about with” (i.e. modernised, and modernised badly.) Those of you who are sceptics of this reminder written many years ago, should take stock, however, of its deeper meaning: significant alterations are not only costly, but also cannot be undone!

We think that your proposals, almost in their entirety, are deeply flawed. We expect an invitation to further discuss matters at a later stage and to be fully consulted throughout.

We remain deeply upset that you did not have the courtesy of consulting with us prior to
publication. We and other City Residents’ Associations were set up and running before you
concluded your discussions with students and the like. Perhaps you would be kind enough
to explain this omission and we await your written response.

We have a number of objections to raise and will take them in an order not necessarily of
importance to all our members. You will understand, no doubt, that in an Association such
as ours everyone has a different view on what they wish to put forward first. It is clear,
however, that points 1 and 2 are fundamental in our thinking and there is some overlap,
objection–wise, in the other categories.

1. Closure of the 2 Car Parks – Baffins and Marks & Spencer

  • We cannot emphasise too strongly our concern over this topic. As mentioned in our opening statements, shopping is the ‘life blood’ of this City. Close the car parks and you effectively close the shopping; close the shopping and you shut down the City; shut down the City and you cut down funding. Your idea to have ‘out of city parking’ simply does not add up to a realistic answer. Moreover, you plainly haven’t thought the idea through. Nowhere in your document do you address the issue of how families parked outside will travel into the city centre. How much extra will they have to pay to do so? This is a ludicrous suggestion and, as one of our members wrote, “Chichester is not Oxford!”
  • You have never really answered what you will do with the seized car parks. Frankly, another market is simply not required and will waste yet more money on your part. What is deeply worrying – and the thread running throughout your Vision document – is the nightmare thought of low-cost housing (or however politely you choose to phrase it), for students and the like. We do not need to provide housing of this kind in some concrete-type jungle within the historic City itself. It is pure and utter nonsense to suggest otherwise. You have repeatedly avoided answering this question and, frankly, we consider this somewhat dishonest.
  • We are advised, in any event, that you would need planning permission for any such development and we put you on notice immediately that we would wish to see any such outline application in existence now, or that contemplated in the future. We want, as stakeholders, involvement in the pre-planning process.

This matter will not go away

2. Residents’ parking and access for Residents and their Visitors

  • We note that you have rarely mentioned the Residents in your documentation. It is as if we were an ‘irritant’ to your plans and the ‘least said, soonest mended’ philosophy applies on your part. You have not polled the view of any of the Residents’ Associations within the City who are directly affected by the Vision. As mentioned previously in our Response we consider ourselves to be a very important part of Chichester’s make-up and our contribution is clearly essential. We wish to know immediately what your plans are to safeguard our residents’ rights – in particular with regard to parking, parking for our visitors, and access to our houses (by us or our invitees.)
  • Similarly, you are clearly under a duty to supply bays for disabled residents and visitors are you not? Again, no mention in your policy papers. May we further point out that apart from parking being allowed for residents, the disabled and deliveries to businesses located in the Pallants, pedestrianisation of the Pallants would seem to be a good idea.

    Proposed pedestrianisation for Pallants
  • At this juncture, we also mention the completely unacceptable access given to HGV– type vehicles in the narrow and ancient Pallant streets. You must be aware of damage both to the pavements and local houses (known as damage ‘to street furniture and fabric’). Again, no mention in your Vision papers. Is this because this is a negative point and your whole concern is financial gain?

The Residents are tired of being exploited and we ask you how you intend to tackle nuisance, pollution and damage in this regard? The lack of an overall ‘joined-up’ plan for delivery vehicles to businesses, existing and proposed, is extremely worrying and should be treated as a priority.

3 Students and the proposals to expand night life generally, but particularly in regard to their interests.

We have previously addressed, in some detail, our concerns over your partiality for this group of individuals. Our Association is overwhelmingly against the idea of an increased and noisy nightlife within the City centre. Are you not aware that every Friday and Saturday night the police patrol South Street for drunkenness. How can you possibly want to increase this problem? We suggest that some reality should enter your considerations, and the sooner the better!

4 Southern Gateway Re-development

  • To the best of our knowledge our members do not take great issue with the redevelopment of this site. We would, however, mention that alteration to this (and the adjacent canal area) has been mooted for some years and little, if anything, seems to have been done as per your previous wish list. According to the Southern Gateway Master Plans formal approval was scheduled for December 2016. Why were the details not included in the Vision document to avoid speculation? Again, we feel the need to stress, and strongly, that quality building work is of the essence and, if you haven’t had the money to fund past promises how do you intend to finance this large venture?
  • A number of our members wish us also, whilst on this topic, to ask if you could find some sort of solution with regard to the continuing, hugely disruptive effects on traffic flows on the ring road arising from the level crossings.

5 The Cattle Market Car Park

We are irretrievably drawn to the question of the Market Car Park.

  • There are 2 issues here:
  1. You want to build ‘cheap’ housing and have made clear that this area is a possibility. Again, we re-iterate our objection to low-quality, poorly designed and constructed accommodation. We would welcome seeing plans showing a more sympathetic approach which complements the quality of our Georgian and Victorian heritage.
  2. If you construct new homes on this site – unless you divide the available area, you are taking away the only large public car park space left in the City and its environs. What are your plans to replace it? Why is it not included in the Vision document?
  • Again, have you really considered the consequences of your actions? Some of our members wish to remind you that there is active building going on at this very moment, or about to start. You yourselves mention, and we quote: “Around Chichester, 3,500 new homes are planned for construction over the next 15 years …’ . Are you about to tell us that the car park mentioned herein is the venue for this expansion? One of our members has informed us that planning for Centurion Way has been passed and building is imminent.
  • Insofar as a ’hidden agenda’ is concerned, we return again to the question of unnecessary student housing within the City itself. We have learned that great expansion is expected for the students within their main university site of Bognor Regis and that they are not in the ‘desperate’ type need you insinuate in your Vision. Again, facts seem to have become somewhat twisted with regard to the younger generation. Please think again before you carry out permanent unsightly alterations to the fabric of the City.

6 Pedestrianisation of the area between the Cathedral and the Department Store in West Street

We believe that a large majority of our members are inclined to accept this proposal but with limitations:

  • We do not agree to the idea of felling the trees. Aside from the fact that these are of some age they provide, we are told, something of a defence to excess water in bad weather and flooding. We consider them attractive as a backdrop to the Cathedral. (See p. 13 of your Vision on the importance of trees)
  • We do not understand, and object to your wish to take away colour from the area such as the flower beds. Please remember that this is a part of the City regularly seen by tourists and students at lunchtime.
  • Similarly, we are appalled that you think it sensible to replace decent wooden benches and substitute them with plastic. In truth, we as residents have seen little if any vandalism to said seating (as mentioned in your document) but, if replacement is essential, we respectfully suggest attractive stone/concrete-style benching (as you have placed elsewhere in the City), is preferable. Plastic is simply not Chichester!
  • We are unclear as to your proposals of re-routing the buses should you go ahead and pedestrianise the said area. This must be something you have considered and should have been in the Vision document for comments. We feel entitled to know the anticipated new routes.
  • We cannot believe, as set out in the Vision, that even this area is to be considered as a market venue. This is simply unbelievable!

7 World – class digital connectivity (as described in the Vision)

Let us now keep our response simple and direct. We welcome anything that will improve the poor service a number of us have at the moment. May we suggest that improved technology should be the first initiative to flow from your wide-spread ambitions and this would help to attract the new businesses the City needs.

In conclusion, we have been somewhat critical in our appraisal of the ‘Vision Document’. We make no apology for that as our prime concern is to conserve our beautiful city and not cheapen it in the way envisaged by you. We remain sceptical over your professed plans for change, the reasons for them and the issue of funding. Our overwhelming desire, as you will no doubt have fathomed, is to protect our rights, property and a decent life within the city we love. We have not clarified every issue (you have given us, in effect, very little time to do so) but we hope we have set out in the main the so–called ‘bullet points’ with which we take exception.

We think that your attitude is wholly disingenuous and that you are effectively hiding much of the truth about your plans from us and fellow residents of Chichester. We feel that because of the paucity of detail within the first draft of the Vision time should be given for the results of the Consultation to be incorporated into another draft which should then be put out for further consultation.

Yours sincerely

Alison Barker, LL.B (Hons), (Retired Barrister-at-Law)

Chair of the Pallants Residents’ Association Sub-Committee on the Response to “The Vision for Chichester”

Support Brandy Hole Copse, Tesco’s Bags awards – voting this February

The Conservation Volunteers want to publicise the campaign for funds to provide income and publicity for the Brandy Hole Copse Nature Reserve. They were selected  for February’s Tescos Bags projects.

To vote, you will need to make a purchase within store of any value. You will receive one token per transaction and it’s not necessary to purchase a carrier bag in order to receive a token.

Our project along with the other two successful projects in your region will go forward to a vote in Tesco stores where their customers will decide the outcome by voting for their favourite project each time they shop. Voting will take place from 1st February to 25th February and Tescos will notify us by the end of March 2017 confirming the amount of funding we will receive. The project with the highest number of votes across our region will receive £5,000, the second placed project £2,000 and the third placed project £1,000.

Our Response to the Review of the Character Appraisal and Management Proposals

Chichester Conservation Area Character Appraisal, published in March 2005 has been reviewed and updated by the Council as part of a program to update all the districts conservation area appraisals. The review (available here) of the conservation area included an examination of the existing boundaries of the conservation area to consider the potential for other areas to be included and, if appropriate, where existing areas should be excluded.

A public consultation ended 3 June 2016 on the revised character appraisal document, proposed changes to the conservation area boundary, and  proposals for additional planning controls, through the use of Article 4 Direction, to protect the area’s character .

The Chichester Society submitted its response which can be viewed here.

Protecting the Green Belt – Commentary by Ray Mears, Jan 2014

Television Survivalist Ray Mears has a Few Things to Say about Loss of Green Spaces

They touch us inside” and are “our greatest unofficial national park.” They may not be top of the agenda now “but in the future will be“.

In the studio discussion afterwards, the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, confidently describes the new planning regime as “Making sure that housing is in the right place, rather than having a top down direction“. It doesn’t feel like that here!

In fact, it looks like the Minister might be a little complacent about the ability of the new planning regime to get things right – not only in where development goes but also in its ability to deliver economic vibrancy – even in his own constituency.