Chichester District Council (CDC) explain on their website that : “changes to the way the Government requires us to calculate future housing needs means that we now plan to build at least 650 new homes each year in the Local Plan Area, up to 2035”.
But Planning Policy requires CDC to accommodate only 609 new homes each year; however, in addition, they are under a duty to add an allowance “for accommodating unmet need arising from the Chichester District part of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).”
The SDNPA have a shortfall of 41 dwellings in what they say they can accommodate resulting in an additional 41 dwellings being added to the CDC figure making 650 new dwellings each year.
We question this decision because CDC has so little space on which to build all these houses.
To the north lies the SDNP, to the south lies the Chichester Harbour AONB and then the Manhood Peninsula which is part of the southern coastal plain. The southern coastal plain has some of the highest grade agricultural land in the country comprising highly productive brick earth strata and a climate suited to early ripening crops.
How can the SDNPA fail to provide sufficient space for their own housing needs despite towns such as Midhurst needing to expand?
With housing developments ongoing and likely to accelerate it is timely to consider the Council’s approach to housing design.
The Chichester Design Protocol was published in 2013 and sets out the Council’s approach to making our District more successful through quality design. It is intended to underpin their commitment to achieving sustainable development. The protocol sets out how the Council will ensure that the design of buildings, places, spaces and the networks that make up our towns and city and rural areas, work for all of us, both now and in the future.
The Chichester Society noted at the time that CDC’s priority objective for more homes needs to be balanced by insisting on design quality and landscaping.
To this the Council responded that “policies in the adopted Local Plan seek to secure a high standard of design and layout in new development and aim to ensure that development respects the character of its surroundings. Development at the strategic development locations (e.g. West of Chichester) is also subject to a Planning ‘Concept Statement’ prepared by Council officers and approved by the Council which sets out a clear statement of design guidance and principles that informed the preparation of masterplans by the developers to ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to the development and associated infrastructure and in subsequent applications for outline and detailed planning permission. The planning system allows applicants to apply for outline planning permission to establish the quantum and principles of development prior to developing more detailed plans of the scheme. Subsequent applications for reserved matters approval are subject to the Council’s usual public notification and consultation procedures and the same referral criteria to the Planning Committee as for outline applications under the Council’s constitution also apply. There is, therefore, ample opportunity for the public to be engaged in the planning process for such applications”.
Work to deliver the priorities set out in the Chichester Vision will shift up a gear thanks to a detailed action plan which sets out timescales and responsibilities.
The Chichester Vision looks ahead over the next 20 years and brings together a wealth of ideas that have been put forward by individuals, groups and organisations across the city.
The aim is to help Chichester attract inward investment and stimulate economic growth by making the most of its heritage and culture, while also adapting to better meet the needs of residents, workers, visitors, and students.
Priorities are to reduce traffic, support independent businesses and create a more diverse evening culture
The Vision was formally adopted this year by Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, Chichester City Council and the board of Chichester BID (Business Improvement District). A Steering Group will oversee the delivery plan which states what the short and medium term goals are.
Four of the main Vision projects have been identified as part of the newly announced Growth Deal for Chichester. These are schemes which will require close partnership working between Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council.
These include the Southern Gateway, Northern Gateway, West Sussex Gigabit Project, and a City Centre Transport Feasibility Study. This study, which is being led by WSCC, is a crucial piece of work as a number of other Vision projects are connected to it.
“This is a very exciting time and there is a strong sense of people working together to help achieve this Vision,” says Councillor Tony Dignum, Leader of Chichester District Council. “It is extremely positive that the lead projects have been identified in the Growth Deal. By prioritising them and providing resources it shows everyone is committed and serious about making them happen.
“Meanwhile, the Vision Steering Group’s focus will be on much smaller projects but which share the objective of making the city more attractive to users of all ages: residents, visitors, workers and students.
“Typical examples of such projects are: improved wayfinding, more cycle racks and benches, Priory Park building refurbishment, and an improved tourism offer. We are delighted that a funding bid to the West Sussex pooled business rates has been successful. This funding will be used to help improve shop fronts in the city and we will have more detail about this at the beginning of next year.
“Of course, it’s important to remember that the Chichester Vision is a long term look at the city, so it will take time to achieve everything that has been set out. We have made an excellent start and I want to reassure people that they will be updated regularly on progress as we move these projects forward.”
The Chichester Society has submitted its response via the questionnaire to the District Council’s draft Southern Gateway Masterplan. It can be viewed here.
While supporting the general thrust of the proposals the Society feels that the Master Plan is fundamentally flawed by not providing a solution for the level crossings misery. The provision of a bus gate and the existing crossing on Stockbridge Road and a shallow underpass for cars on or parallel to Basin Road is a workable solution.
As regards the Strategic Environmental Assessment the Society stated that the feasibility of the Master Plan aspirations and timetable require forward planning and investment now to enable the essential infrastructure items such as drainage, moving the bus depot, moving the Royal Mail Sorting Office, and land purchase for the underpass / level crossing solution.
Society Chairman Richard Childs explains the Society’s wish-list
In March the Chichester Society responded to a consultation on the District Council’s Vision for the city centre over the next 20 years. Our response can be seen in full on the website. This article is a summary of that vision.
We feel that as the main entry points to the city centre, it is vitally important to improve the four gateways. So looking at each in turn our thoughts are as follows:
Northgate We believe the Northgate gyratory should be abolished and an attractively designed hotel built on the footprint of Metro House. A signal-controlled pedestrian/cycle route on a line from St Paul’s Road to North Street would be of immense benefit to everyone, notably residents.
Redesign Northgate car park to provide a landscaped walkway from Oaklands Way to the Theatre, enhanced with low level bollard lighting. This walkway would be orientated and focused north towards the theatre and south to the Cathedral spire. A signal-controlled pedestrian/cycle junction is required for crossing Oaklands Way, thereby providing a popular alternative to the pedestrian tunnel.
Southgate Again, we believe that this gyratory ought to be abolished and the northern leg made for two-way traffic. The Crown Court has enormous potential for conversion to a multi-use venue but primarily as a concert hall. The vast spaces of the bus garage would be ideal for large scale gigs. Everyone recognises the canal basin’s scope for regeneration and we support a variety of leisure uses for this location: an hotel, bars and restaurants with landscaped terraces fronting onto the canal. No structures should obscure views of the cathedral and its spire. Create a purpose-designed ‘gateway’ feature at the location of the former South Gate. Move the bus station north of the railway as part of the existing station forecourt. Is this the moment to mention the elephant in the room? The reason for increasing traffic congestion in this neighbourhood is the railway. Why not commission a feasibility-study as one element of a Southgate master plan to provide road bridges in place of the two level crossings?
Westgate We would like to see a landscaped garden on part or all of the Orchard Street car park. This amenity would be some compensation for the anticipated loss of Westgate roundabout due to highway works associated with the Whitehouse Farm development. Nearby, the untapped potential use of the Cathedral Green can be explored. For example, create several ramps between the raised footpath and West Street – a feature that would be popular with wheelchair users. Remove the diseased lime trees over time and replant. Retain bus stops but place two heritage-type bus shelters outside former Post Office.
Eastgate This gyratory should also be abolished. We would make St Pancras and The Needlemakers two-way. We would pedestrianise The Hornet to create a quirky shopping quarter on the lines of those in Brighton or Lewes, all of which are flourishing with small traders since pedestrianisation projects. Kwik Fit must be relocated to the city periphery and in its place developed retail space for small units from St Pancras through to The Hornet. Small retail units would fit well on the North and/or East side of the Cattle Market car park. Parts of this substantial area could become a covered market, of the kind seen in almost all French towns. Such buildings can be extremely attractive.
The City’s Night Time Economy – adding pizzazz We would like to see the city centre become even more attractive through imaginative floodlighting. This would focus on the principal elements of the city’s urban character: buildings like the Council House, the Guildhall, St Olaves Church, former Corn Exchange, St Pancras Church and St John’s Chapel; but also historic structures such as the City Walls at Jubilee Park and Westgate Fields, or the Bell Tower & St Peter the Great, or the Gateway to Canon Lane. This city could become famous for its ‘lighting festival’ timed during the Christmas season and the Festival of Chichester in June-July.
Increasing City Centre Accommodation Proactive policies and programmes can encourage owners of retail and office space to develop surplus accommodation, ideally for flats or small business units.
Protecting Chichester’s Special Character Chichester’s “Special Character” owes much to its rural setting and rural features of much of this city. These aspects need greater acknowledgement and protection possibly through the medium of existing design guides. For example: hedges rather than fences, wooden street furniture rather than big-city steel and plastic. Planning policy should seek to “knit together” the street scene, without too many stand-out, statement buildings. New buildings within the city centre should aim to be quietly sympathetic rather than shouting for attention. But even where the occasional “statement building” is permitted it must be sensitive to its neighbours.
And finally, the Society would like to
Improve the appalling state of the city centre’s pavements.
Provide a high quality Tourist Information Centre in North Street under the Council Chamber with glazing in the arches.
Use architectural competitions for larger development sites to ensure high quality design.
Provide more seats in the city centre, particularly in South Street and Southgate.
Re-open public toilets that have been closed in recent years.
Could any of these aspirations come to fruition in years to come? While recognising the constraints, not least finance, we can hope – and indeed this is why the District Council has sponsored such a wide ranging public consultation. Hope. An important word; there’s even a website dedicated to poetry with hope!
(This article and the following comment originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of the Society’s Newsletter)
Steve Oates, CDC Economic Development Manager and Chichester Vision Project Manager, comments: “We received a strong response to our six week public consultation. Subject to any further amendments, it’s anticipated the final Vision will be adopted by Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, Chichester City Council and Chichester BID during July. From that point the work really begins! A delivery plan and team will be formed to ensure the aspirations and ambitions set out in the Vision become reality over the next couple of decades”.
The Pallants are an ancient area in Chichester. Originally known as the Palatine (of the palace) these four streets belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury and this situation persisted until the nineteenth century.
In medieval times it was an area of commerce with many malt houses and other merchant properties. In 1724 Daniel Defoe wrote that Chichester was “not a place of much trade, nor is it very populous”, having a population of just 400 souls. The eighteenth century though was a time of expansion and much of the town was re-built in brick giving birth to a flourishing brick industry. In this century many of the houses in the Pallants became “gentrified”, some being completely re-built and others leaving a timber structural frame to be clad in brick according to the Georgian fashion.
The view presented today is that of a fine Georgian street but this hides the much earlier beginnings of the streets. In particular 9 West Pallant, sporting a handsome Georgian façade dates back to the early Tudor period and internally there is much to remind one of this. After the last war many of these wonderful buildings were listed Grade II to ensure that they are preserved. In recent years there has been a tendency for the commercial occupiers to move from the area and this has led to many houses reverting to residential use.
Today most of the houses are in residential use and they certainly make elegant homes which are a delight to the eye. However, with elegance comes responsibility. In effect the owner of a listed building becomes a caretaker of the heritage. Unlike many ordinary properties where the building might be extended without planning permission under the Permitted Development rules if you are the proud owner of a listed building the size of the planning dossier can become quite daunting. For almost every alteration no matter how small and application for Listed Building consent is required which includes a Heritage statement and a Design and Access statement. In addition you may well also need planning consent. The Pallants are of course within a conservation area, so account is taken of the effect of any alterations on the surrounding area. So plenty of pitfalls and professional advice is seriously recommended.
By way of illustration I give by way of example a project in West Wales with which I have been involved and which was recently the subject of a Restoration Man programme on Channel 4. This particular project was unusual in that it involved both a listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. Another fly in the ointment of this project was that over the thirty or so years it took to complete the project legislation changed and rules were altered.
Thirty years ago my client bought a gazebo which had been built on top of a medieval tower forming part of the town walls in Pembroke. The gazebo and the surrounding piece of garden had once formed part of an elegant 18th century house on the high street but which had been separated because the owners lacked the means to restore the gazebo.
The gazebo was in a ruinous state and the accommodation, which it offered, was limited to one room on each of the two floors. In order to make the property useable it would be necessary to extend it. So plans were drawn up and we consulted with CADW (the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage). After several visits and much discussion CADW gave their blessing and we applied for planning permission which was eventually granted with many conditions. With paperwork secure we employed a contractor to commence the works. Because of the existing town walls (which we were not allowed to touch) everything for the work had to be craned over the wall. All went well to start with and much of the structure for the new extension was completed. Then disaster struck. After three months the contractor suddenly went bankrupt bringing the work to a sudden halt. My client was quite distressed by this turn of event s was so fed up that he walked away from the project.
A hiatus of over two decades ensued before I received, quite out of the blue, a phone call from my client suggesting that as he was now retired it might be a good time to resurrect this project.
Early in 2014 the documents for the project were retrieved from the archives and dusted off. Over the intervening years my client had had time to think more about the project and some changes were necessary which involved Planning applications and Listed Building consent. In the meantime the construction drawings were prepared and a new contractor engaged to carry out the works. So far so good.
By April 2014 the contractor had been on site for several weeks when one morning a lady from CADW turned up on site and told us that we must cease work immediately as we did not have planning permission for the work which we were undertaking!
The lady from CADW explained that although we had all the correct planning consents including Listed Building consent for the 18th century gazebo we had no consents for the medieval tower on which it sits. For this we needed to apply for Scheduled Ancient Monument consent. I did point out that the work which affected the medieval tower had been carried out thirty years previously. My pleas fell on deaf ears. We would have to apply for ancient monument consent which she said, had we applied for it thirty years previously it would have been refused! My response was that in that case she would have no alternative but to refuse consent following which my client would involve CADW in a very costly lawsuit. After several months permission was granted but with a rider that CADW did not approve of what we were doing.
Despite the amazing tangle of planning paperwork the project was successfully completed in 2015, although it has to be said that there were two zeros on the contract price compared with the original contract.
The moral of the story is that it is a wonderful experience to own a listed building – but never do anything without sound advice.
Last year the Chichester District Council in association with The Partners of the Chichester Vision Group produced ‘Chichester Tomorrow … … A Vision For Chichester’. This was published as a consultation document inviting comments from interested parties and individuals.
In the document the Council stated that ‘The Vision will serve as a template against which to test new projects and proposals emerging for the City Centre. The Vision will guide and, where appropriate, direct future economic and planning policy for the City Centre, guide how future budgets and resources are allocated, and it will help attract inward investment‘.
The consultation ended on 19 March 2017 and The Chichester Society gave its views through its Executive Committee in a document dated 10 March and available here.
The District Council asked for views on its document outlining a vision for the future of Chichester. The Pallants Residents’ Association made up of 50 households in the Pallant roads area of the City have made their views known in a letter to Stephen Oates, Economic Development Manager.
In their extensive response they stated that ‘ 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‘.
A reconvened Planning Committee Meeting to discuss Whitehouse Farm will be held at CDC Offices, East Pallant House at 2pm on Friday 11 November. Any thoughts to put further pressure on developers for a Southern access may be fruitless as the developers Miller and Linden Homes threaten to go to appeal. In their letter (viewable here) they state ‘an appeal will be submitted if there is either further deferral or refusal of the application at committee on 11th November‘
The Chichester City Council Assembly Room was the location on the evening of Tuesday 27 September for those opposed to the Court closures to hear arguments against this plan. The meeting was chaired by Peter Budge, Mayor of Chichester, with a Panel of speakers comprising His Honour Judge Robin Barrett QC Retired Circuit Judge, Edward Cook Solicitor at Anderson Rowntree Solicitor and Vice Chair of Resolution West Sussex, Sara Fildes Solicitor and Director of Owen-Kenny Partnership and committee member of Chichester district Law Society, Edward Hand Criminal Barrister and Louise Goldsmith Leader of West Sussex County Council.
Robin Barratt opened the proceedings citing several areas of objection. First, is the significance of the removal of a system of justice from our City; this fails to understand history and he described this as a ‘sacrifice on the altar of money’. Second, is the flawed process that was followed. While the start was promising it soon became clear that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) had the end result in mind from the start. This has resulted in West Sussex being only one of two Counties without such Courts (the other being Northumberland). Third, the judges were not properly consulted throughout. This was exemplified by an early suggestion for a combined court to alleviate the closure being subsequently rejected because ‘sadly your proposal came too late’; this despite the promise not to close the Courts until local provisions were in place. This aspect was one covered by Edward Cook who followed Robin with a detailed chronology of the process.
The logistical problems faced by those having to interact with the legal system will only increase. Edward Hand cited cases with which he has had to deal and pointed out the lack of awareness that for any one case 20 to 30 support staff (court officers, clerks, judge, barrister etc) are involved. It was understood that the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne (who sent her apologies for not being present) is an advocate of video links, but experience has shown that such links have often proved unreliable and are not adequate to deal with the many different persons involved.
Cases will take much longer to be heard, asserted Sara Fildes from her experience as a Family Solicitor. It is not unusual for a parent and children to have to travel to another area to attend court, experience delays and find that the children have to be registered in this strange area to attend schools. The lack of a local court will further extend timescales while the expected population growth in our area will exacerbate the situation further. She felt that the other courts will not be able to cope.
The formal proceedings ended with Louise Goldsmith joining with other speakers in expressing anger on the closure decision and sorrow for local residents who will be faced with the inevitable increased disruption to their lives.
A lively discussion then followed chaired by the Mayor with around 20 or so local residents making their concerns felt. The support provided by the local MP Andrew Tyrie was acknowledged and everyone was urged to write individually to him with their objections and concerns (contact details below). There was a strong case for a Judicial Review of the process and this is one route that is apparently being considered.
The absence of a representative from the Chichester District Council was noted. The view was expressed that the CDC has divided loyalties and sees the land presently occupied by the Courts as an opportunity for development as part of a Southern Gateway project rather than one to be protected for judicial use.
One speaker noted those in more rural or distant areas will be particularly badly hit as they will have to get to the transport hubs in Chichester before they can begin their journey to courts elsewhere.
The Mayor concluded the meeting by thanking all those that attended. They were invited to leave email addresses as they left so that they could be informed of any follow up actions.
Report by Bob Wiggins (Editor)
Contact details for Andrew Tyrie
House of Commons
The forthcoming September 2016 issue of the Chichester Society Newsletter includes an article by Society member Christopher Mead-Briggs entitled ‘Chichester must accommodate more housing – but how?’ In it he references the following reports which can be viewed by clicking on their titles:
They can be read on screen but the best way to read the second report is to print it out because of the size of the font and the illustrative material.
Notes on the Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns Report
1. The report was written by Lord March and Terence O’Rourke MBE in March 2015 and followed an appreciation of the forecast growth of Chichester and its planned expansion. This led to a much wider review of the impact on other similar cities and towns.
2. It makes key recommendations in a succinct and readable form in a booklet of just 6 pages.
3. It followed the publication in October 2014 of a very detailed report of 178 pages produced by Richard Bate and others for English Heritage entitled “The Sustainable Growth of Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns”. That report is on the English Heritage web here.
Notes on the Cathedral Cities in Peril Report
(This pdf file presents on-screen in a sideways format which requires use of a right click of the mouse when positioned over the text of the report. Choose “rotate” to turn the text clockwise – it requires three clicks to complete the rotation.)
1. This report is an important core document written by the leading architectural practice of Foster + Partners jointly with Terence O’Rourke MBE and runs to 59 pages. It outlines the need to provide good quality housing to meet the needs of a fast growing population and recognises the attraction of our historic towns as places to live and work. They explain that the challenge will be to provide for that growth in such high quality locations without damage to their intrinsic character. It was published in March 2015.
2. The authors have considered the similarities that the English historic towns possess, many having medieval city walls, narrow streets and a large number of listed buildings. They stress the need to encourage local councils to accommodate high quality design combining constructive conservation, regeneration and infill, and the use of compulsory purchase powers where necessary to combine old with new. They suggest connecting fragmented areas lying outside the core with good public transport. They encourage community led schemes.
3. Four Cathedral Cities are considered in some detail and are compared with four cities in Europe. Conclusions are reached and then tested using Kings Lynn as the example.
4. Their six recommendations appear at the end of the report and should be read across the pages because each refers to three issues: a) the supporting national framework for each recommendation, b) the implementation barriers and c) the proposed changes to policy.
‘There are sound and clear cut reasons for refusing planning permission in the absence of any commitment to provide the Southern Access Road prior to the development of the site‘ so state The Chichester Society and the East Broyle, Parklands, Westgate and Orchard Street/Old Somerstown Residents Associations in a joint submission to the Local Council.
They further state ‘In the absence of any commitment to the provision of the Southern Access to the Via Ravenna roundabout and not to Westgate to be in place before construction of the houses in Phase 1 the application 14/04301 should be refused’.
In this BBC Radio 4 point of view broadcast on 10 June Roger Scruton addresses how we should prioritise beauty when building the countryside – Beauty in my back yard (BIMBY) not NIMBY. To listen to it click here.
BIMBY arises from the Prince’s Foundation and comprises a Toolkit with a series of workshops that guides a community through creating a BIMBY Housing Manual for their own area.
The toolkit has 3 workshops to help a community decide what it wants as a community. The outcome of the toolkit is a series of standards for developers to follow in the form of a Housing Manual. There is also guidance on how to get the Manual adopted as part of the formal planning process.
Proposals: Outline planning application with all matters reserved (except for access) for the first phase of development for up to 750 homes with access from Old Broyle Road, temporary access from Clay Lane, a local centre (with associated employment, retail and community uses), primary school, informal and formal open space (including a Country Park), playing pitches, associated landscaping, utilities and drainage infrastructure with on site foul sewage package treatment plant or pumping station with connection to Tangmere Waste Water Treatment Works.
Society response: A very short period of time was given for a response to be made to the Planning Application CC/14/04301/OUT. In our initial response (click here) Chairman Richard Childs objects to the failure adequately to consult and considers that this Masterplan must be revised to create a southern access route from the start of Phase 1 so that construction traffic can be directed from Cathedral Way roundabout direct to the new development. A more formal response is being prepared.
Meanwhile – The Council invite observations on the above application by 7 June 2016. To view the application click on the application number above.
Albion Water are planning a waste water treatment plant for developers Linden Homes and Miller Homes at Whitehouse Farm, Chichester, West Sussex. The Environmental Agency has consulted on the environmental permit application ref EPR/SB3338AD/A001 and the Chichester Society has, through its Chairman, raised several objections as detailed in a letter than can be consulted here.
The Society in Jan 2014 counted over 200 A-boards within the city centre. In the right circumstances a few A-Boards can have a positive benefit in attracting custom to smaller and often independent shops. But 200+ is too many!
However, their use is deprecated by the Chichester District Council – see their guidance on ‘Shop Front and Advertisement Design’ here. Alternative business signage to A-Boards is being developed by the Chichester Business Improvement District (BID)
Following protracted hearings during the autumn of 2014, dissecting and reviewing the District Council’s draft Local Plan, Sue Turner, the Planning Inspector for the Examination in Public (EiP), delivered her report which is available on the CDC website.
She has approved CDC’s Plan on condition that numerous amendments are added.
Here is the Society’s take on the result:
Overview The Local Plan has to sit within the bounds set down by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which is created by central Government and underlies the entire plan-making process. Subject to the amendments mentioned above, the Inspector found that the Local Plan is indeed aligned with the NPPF.
‘Duty to Co-operate’ Draft Local Plans fail if they are not created as a result of co-operation and consultation between adjoining councils, public agencies and other stakeholders. The Society argued at the EiP hearings that CDC had not met this requirement. The Inspector disagreed. She decided: ‘in preparing the Plan the Council has … engaged effectively with prescribed bodies to address strategic matters. It has therefore met the duty set out in section 33A of the 2004 Act’ (page 5, paragraph 11)
‘Soundness’: ‘Soundness’ is fundamental when assessing whether a Draft Local Plan is fit for purpose.In assessing soundness, the Inspector framed the EiP hearings around nine ‘issues’, asking whether the Plan:
Is a ‘robuststrategy’
Is supported by ‘robust infrastructureplanning’
Identifies ‘objectively’ the need for market and affordable housing
Maximises housing delivery
Provides for a ‘thriving local economy’
Allocates strategicdevelopment sites based on ‘robust evidence’
Identifies development sites through Neighbourhood Plans
Has environmental policies that are ‘soundly based’
Has effective built-in monitoring and delivery
Sue Turner concluded(page 27, paragraph 132) ‘that with the recommended main modifications set out in the Appendix the Chichester Local Plan satisfies the requirements of Section 20(5) of the 2004 act and meets the criteria for soundness in the National Planning Policy Framework’.
A closer look at the Inspector’s opinions: the following comments focus on a few of the EiP report’s themes likely to be of interest to the Society’s members. The abbreviation “MM” signifies “Main Modification” (as listed in the appendix to the Inspector’s Report).
A ‘robust strategy’: the Inspector accepted the Plan’s intention to focus new development in an ‘East-West Corridor’ (para 15) after receiving CDC amendments which include:
‘The East-West Corridor is the main focus for new development proposed in the Local Plan…The Plan seeks to accommodate new growth within and around the city and to enhance its role as a sub-regional centre and visitor destination. However it is recognised that new development needs to be planned sensitively with special regard to the city’s historic environment and setting, whilst also addressing key infrastructure constraints, particularly in terms of wastewater treatment capacity and transport….’ (MM26).
Infrastructure planning: this technical section includes CDC amendments (MM22) about cycling and pedestrian infrastructure design; and about Apuldram Wastewater Catchment Area (MM 35). The Inspector observes ‘the Plan takes account of the need for strategic infrastructure and demonstrates that it can realistically be provided to ensure that the level of development that is proposed can be delivered’ (para 37).
Housing need estimates: CDC has increased its estimates for new homes required each year (MM7) to 505, excluding the National Park. The Inspector concurs (para 42).
Maximising housing delivery: the report identifies a mismatch between data on new homes needed, averaging 505 a year, and supply averaging 415. The reason relates to constraints in infrastructure such as A27 road works and wastewater drainage. This conundrum has been resolved for the present by CDC submitting an amendment (MM9) that acknowledges the supply gap:
‘For this reason the Council will review the Local Plan within five years to ensure that OAN (Objectively Assessed Need) is met…’.
The Inspector: ‘For these reasons I conclude that the Plan should be adopted now, subject to a commitment to a review to be completed within five years….(para 56).
Four strategic development sites:
West of Chi: target numbers during the Plan period increased from 1,000 to 1,250 (para 83). The Inspector notes local concern and uncertainty about sewerage treatment routes to Tangmere WwTW and proposals for an on-site treatment facility; but because the Plan is a strategic document detailed proposals are ‘not appropriate’ at this stage. ‘In these circumstances the provision of wastewater treatment facilities does not prevent a barrier to developing the West of Chichester’ (para 85).
Westhampnett/NE Chi: ‘I am satisfied that the Plan’s flexible and pragmatic approach to addressing the buffer between Goodwood and new housing development is appropriate and effective’ (para 93).
Shopwyke Lakes & Tangmere: are ’soundly based and deliverable.’ (paras 89 & 102).
Environment policies – protecting heritage assets: English Heritage was concerned and the outcome is six amendments to the Plan (MM100-105). The Inspector is satisfied ‘that the Plan includes an effective strategy to ensure the District’s heritage assets can be protected and which is consistent with the NPPF’.
The ChiSoc view: The inspector’s conclusions are disappointing. On a number of points we felt that the evidence demonstrated failure of the Local Plan. The inspector concluded otherwise. On the issue of the duty to co-operate, we felt we had provided evidence of inadequate co-operation with Havant BC. The inspector concluded that there had been sufficient co-operation. On West of Chichester Strategic Development Location (SDL), despite numerous objections concerning inadequate transport infrastructure and wastewater treatment, which would make the site an unsuitable SDL, the inspector decided that these major difficulties were not a matter for the Local Plan but for resolution during the detailed planning process.
 The NPPF can be viewed at www. gov.uk Plan-making processes and policies are described from page 37
The Examination in Public (EIP) of Chichester District Council’s Local Plan took a break during the latter half of November while the District Council, on the recommendation of the Planning Inspector, reviewed its original housing target figure of 6,973 new homes to be built during the plan period (to 2029).
When the EIP resumed on 2 December, the Council outlined how it had reviewed its figures and proposed new, increased figures. The total number of new homes proposed would rise to 7,388 homes during the plan period, an increase from 410 per annum to 435. Of this increased number the overwhelming proportion, 250 homes were to be located at the West of Chichester Strategic Development Location, viz., Whitehouse Farm.
Notwithstanding the ‘encouragement’ from the Planning Inspector to review their methodology and maximise the number of homes to meet the objectively assessed need (OAN) for housing, there remains considerable doubt that the Council has come up with a satisfactory figure – anyway certainly not in the eyes of the developers.
The EIP sat for two days at the beginning of December before taking another break.
During the break the Council compiled its Draft Modifications to the Local Plan, which had arisen during and as a result of the Examination In Public. These modifications were approved by the District Council on 22 December.
On 8 January 2015 the modifications were put out for public consultation for a six week period ending on 19 February.
It is anticipated, though not certain, that the following will happen over the next weeks and months. First the Planning Inspector will consider the responses to the consultation on the modifications. A reconvening of the EIP may happen in late March. Sometime later the Inspector’s report will appear. The report may or may not approve the Local Plan.
Meanwhile there is the little matter of District Council elections, not to mention a General Election. The District Council will go into ‘purdah’ in April.
So one thing is for certain, it will be a different District Council, indeed a different Government that will be picking up the loose ends from the long-running saga of the Chichester Local Plan.
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