Tag Archives: Local plan

An opportunity to create a wildflower oasis in Chichester

John Templeton explains the background and how this proposal could become a reality.
The first phase of the Whitehouse Farm housing development (or Minerva Heights as it’s now called) comprises 750 homes and is well under way. An outline planning application for a second phase with a further 850 homes was submitted in July 2022. This includes what the developers call a Northern Country Park on two fields opposite Whitehouse Farm, and immediately south of Brandy Hole Copse Local Nature Reserve (see map). It’s proposed these fields would not be developed for housing but remain as Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace, or SANGS in planning jargon. This approach compensates for the loss of greenspace on the remainder of Whitehouse Farm.
The Chichester Society has made a formal objection to creating a Northern Country Park, because this proposal is misplaced. Country Parks was introduced in the Countryside Act 1968 for the development of ‘honeypot’ recreational facilities on the outskirts of London and other major urban areas. The intention was to discourage people from driving into the surrounding countryside. A good example is Queen Elizabeth Country Park between Horndean and Petersfield which provides a large car park, café, gift shop, tourist information and toilets as well as cycleways and guided walks through the forest and to Butser Hill.
Local Nature Reserve 
Brandy Hole Copse (formerly named East Broyle Copse) is a 15 acre area of woodland, on the southern side of Brandy Hole Lane. Part belongs to Chichester District Council and the rest to two landowners. The public are allowed to visit the Copse on foot from several access points on Brandy Hole Lane and Centurion Way cycle-footpath. Years ago, most of the Copse was impenetrable but a hurricane-force storm in 1987 brought down many trees. A public meeting in 1989 called by the District Council and Sussex
Wildlife Trust led to the formation of the Brandy Hole Copse Conservation Group, now the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse, to care for it. After years of work including enlarging two ponds and creating footpaths, the Copse was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2001.
Up to the present time, Brandy Hole Copse (BHC) is the only designated Local Nature Reserve in Chichester District. It’s managed by the Council through the BHC
Management Board. Members include council officers, District and City councillors and residents of local bodies including the Chichester Society. A long-held wish of the Friends is that the two fields immediately south of the Copse should be planted as wildflower meadows and included within an enlarged Local Nature Reserve. These fields and the Copse were also cherished by the late naturalist Richard Williamson as being of major importance for nature conservation. As a tribute to Richard, we reproduced an evocative article he wrote for the Chichester Observer in May 2013 and published it in the September 2022 Newsletter. He asked whether Cicestrians cared about this green space? We and the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse certainly do!
At the time of writing, the two fields are still part of Whitehouse Farm and the larger field is still farmed.
The owners have for many years allowed people to walk along the borders of both fields and this has been widely enjoyed by those visiting Brandy Hole Copse and Centurion Way. The developers’ proposals give no details of how the country park would be created but show paths and cycleways wandering across the fields with clumps of trees and play-on-the-way facilities.
Expanding the nature reserve 
We think these two fields should be brought under the management of Brandy Hole Copse Local Nature Reserve and given priority to nature as is the case with the Copse itself. The paths around the borders of the fields should be well surfaced for use by buggies and wheelchairs for access into the Copse and Centurion Way. A cycleway could also be provided from Old Broyle Road (B2178) to Centurion Way. The newly planted meadows would be protected as nature is allowed to take over.
The District Council’s updated Local Plan designates Centurion Way as one of a series of wildlife corridors connecting Chichester Harbour with the South Downs. The Copse sits astride this corridor with the new wildlife meadows adjacent to it acting as stepping- stones for nature as climate change gains momentum.

Chichester’s Local Plan Review approved for public consultation

Christopher Mead-Briggs explains the Local Plan has reached its final stage

Chichester Local Plan

There can be few jobs tougher than pulling together the changes needed to our out-of-date Local Plan so that it passes an Inspector’s Examination. It was in 2017 that we were first introduced to the ‘Preferred Approach’ document that began this process followed by a public consultation on ‘Issues and Options’ in the winter of 2018.
Since then, work has been on-going with specialist planners, transport experts and statisticians who have been meeting government agencies to review how the growth in our District area in terms of new housing and employment can be managed.  With all our geographical and physical constraints, an A27 which needs upgrading, a Harbour that’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National  Park, can Chichester meet the housing targets set by Government?

New housing numbers down
The District Council agreed on 24 January to submit reduced housing numbers. The Government had required our District to build 638 dwellings per annum; the new figure is 575 a year for the length of the Plan period of 18 years from 2021 until 2039.

The biggest update in the revised plan is however more emphasis on climate change,
the natural environment, the importance of gaps between settlements, the establishment
of Strategic Wildlife Corridors, biodiversity and the need to protect our designated landscape areas.  In addition thought has been given to the possibility of a new settlement altogether where longer term housing growth might be accommodated elsewhere than Chichester.

The revised Plan has been out for public consultation between 3 February and 17 March this year and will be followed by an Examination led by an Inspector; only then can it be approved.  We’ve reached what’s called Regulation 19 stage in the process and this
means that the submitted Plan will now carry more weight in those planning appeals that
are outstanding.

Other policies
As part of the process, housing allocations have risen in Tangmere but reduced to nil in
the Manhood Peninsular with the exception of North Mundham. Additional employment land is allocated along the A27 at Bognor Road, and at Westhampnett to allow the expansion of the existing Rolls Royce factory. There are proposals to encourage the vitality of Chichester’s city centre reflecting the recent changes to planning regulations and also to
tourism generally.
Let’s hope the Local Plan Review succeeds.
Christopher Mead-Briggs is a member of the Society’s Executive Committee. 
From The Chichester Society’s Newsletter no 215 March 2023

For further background see https://www.chichester.gov.uk/localplanexplained 

And for more articles like this do join the Chichester Society and receive the quarterly newsletter.

Benefits from developing South West of Chichester

John Templeton explains why your Society supports these proposals

Although the Local Plan for Chichester District was adopted in 2015 the Government has instructed it must be reviewed to address the ‘Objectively Assessed Need’ for yet more housing. Last winter Chichester District Council (CDC) consulted on revisions to the Local Plan that included a new Strategic Site Allocation for greenfield land south west of Stockbridge, between the Chichester bypass and Chichester Harbour. This has set alarm bells ringing loudly!

The Council’s proposal is to develop about 85 hectares of which around 35 hectares would be for employment uses, plus at least 100 new homes and a country park. Also included is a new road link from the A27 Fishbourne (aka Tesco) roundabout to the A286 Birdham Road, south of Stockbridge. The plan below shows an outline route for this road based on a transport study by Peter Brett Associates commissioned by CDC.

To the surprise of some of our members the Society supported this proposal. Whilst we have long argued that priority for new housing should be on brownfield land within the city itself we can see many benefits that could arise from this new proposal, and which we outline below.

Link road benefits

Firstly, a link road to Stockbridge would not only serve the new developments but would provide an additional link to the towns and villages on the Manhood Peninsular and at the same time reduce congestion and pollution at Stockbridge and the dangerous rat-run of Apuldram Lane.

View across fields from the public footpath east of Apuldram Lane towards the city, some of which could become a country park. Photo: John Templeton

Understanding landscape

Some 15 years ago CDC commissioned a major landscape strategy of all potential development land surrounding the city. It was published in 2005 as The Future Growth of Chichester: Landscape and Visual Amenity Considerations. Areas assessed around the city included fields west of Stockbridge near to Chichester Harbour. Land close to Stockbridge was found to be of poor quality with gappy hedgerows and no views of the cathedral or of the Downs. But to the west, medieval field boundaries still existed with mature trees and hedgerows forming part of the rural setting of both the city and the hamlet of Apuldram, with distant views of the cathedral spire and the Downs beyond.

Rural gap benefits

It is therefore essential that a new link road, well screened with trees and hedgerows, must form the western limit to any extension to Stockbridge, with land to the west retained as a rural gap between the city and the harbour. It should be carefully landscaped as meadows, indeed maybe water meadows because much of it is in a flood-risk area, with the meandering river Lavant (when it flows!) contributing to the proposed wildlife corridor between the Harbour and the Downs. At present the only access to this land is a poorly defined public footpath between the city and the harbour, with a footbridge over the railway to Terminus Road and a highly dangerous crossing of the dual carriageway A27 bypass. This is the shortest walk from the city to the sea, but please don’t risk your life even wearing a high-viz jacket! This route should be upgraded as a footpath/ cycleway with a pedestrian bridge over the bypass, also connecting to the new development (a case for Section 106 Planning gain?).

A new link road to and from Stockbridge would reduce the present excessive use of Apuldram Lane Photo: John Templeton

Housing and employment benefits

As for the development itself, the most obvious location for housing would be towards the southern end, close to Stockbridge to benefit from the shops and community facilities already there, as well as the quarter hour bus service along the Birdham Road. Further north, towards the A27, well designed employment development could take place, which would attract new firms to the city. Creating new employment north of Stockbridge would also enable vacant or underused sites on the city’s industrial estates at Terminus Road and Quarry Lane to be reallocated for much needed affordable housing within walking distance of the city centre.

Agreeing a master plan

Unlike other major greenfield developments underway which could provide no benefits to the existing city, this new proposal for south west Chichester if properly planned will have major benefits. It is however essential that the community is involved in the drawing up of an agreed master plan and that this is adhered to as the development progresses. The devil will be is in the detail!

(This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of the Society’s Newsletter)

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.’