Category Archives: Land

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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

and

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: margaret.evans@westsussex.gov.uk

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.

Conservation Area Appraisal published March 2005

Chichester District Council commissioned a Conservation Area Appraisal from The Conservation Studio.

The appraisal was prepared in line with English Heritage guidance contained within their document ‘Conservation Area Appraisals’, on which the consultants’ Brief was based. It was drafted in consultation with Chichester District Council, Chichester City Council, and a number of local amenity groups, and was subject to public consultation. It was hoped that it would inform and educate the many people who live and work in Chichester and its surrounding hinterland, and help them to appreciate the significance of the Chichester Conservation Area.

To read their report, click here.