Government refuses to delay controversial Chichester plan

The government has refused to delay consideration of the controversial Chichester Local Plan, which will see the building of more than 4,000 new houses and major changes to the A27.

A letter was sent to the Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick from Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, along with the chief executive of the district council, Diane Shepherd, and other councillors, to urge the central government to allow more time to consider the plan – but they were told there was ‘no mechanism’ for individual authorities to have planning deadlines extended. The planning deadline for Chichester’s local plan is July 2020.

Several dissenting voices have been heard over the plan, which includes a total of 4,230 new homes for Chichester, major changes to the A27 and potential encroachment into the South Downs National Park.

John Nelson is the chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust.

“The impact of the Local Plan, as so far set out by Chichester District Council, will have a devastating and irreversible effect on Chichester Harbour, the AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) and the southern part of the South Downs,” he said.

“The approach they have taken on fulfilling the new housing targets set by the government lacks imagination and foresight. There has been a failure to get across to government, both national and local, the extraordinary circumstances affecting Chichester.”

Building for 750 homes was approved in the first phase of Chichester District’s largest ever housing development project, which will eventually see 1,600 homes built.

Another development at Whitehouse Farm, to the west of Chichester, will also include a primary school, ‘employment land’ of six hectares, a community hub with shops and community centre, and a country park.

The homes will be built by Linden Homes and Miller Homes.

The Whitehouse Farm development – called the West of Chichester Strategic Development – is the largest by far of seven strategic developments that will total 4,230 homes, all detailed in the 300-page Chichester Local Plan 2014-2029.

The others include:

  • Tangmere, 1,000 homes
  • Westhampnett, 500 homes
  • Shopwycke, 500 homes (work has begun)
  • Southbourne, 300 homes
  • East Wittering & Bracklesham, 180 homes
  • Selsey, 150 homes.

“Although we are disappointed that there is no mechanism to extend the deadline, we have taken up the offer of support from the Minister of Local Government and Homelessness to help us meet this critical deadline,” says councillor Eileen Lintill, leader of Chichester District Council.

“While meeting with the minister, we raised our concerns about the housing numbers that we are expected to take. He explained that the housing numbers are based on housing need and not on the capacity of the plan area to deliver them.

“As Chichester is one of the most unaffordable places to live, an affordability ratio is applied, which increases the amount of housing that is needed in the area. If we believe we do not have the capacity to deliver our housing numbers, then we must support this with strong evidence, which will be tested at public examination.

“However, if the evidence shows that we can meet the numbers, then we will be required to plan for the number of houses set by the Government.

“What is vital now is to make sure that we meet the July 2020 deadline. If we don’t achieve this, our housing numbers will increase and we will lose control of where development should take place. This is why it is vital that we all work together to make sure that we deliver a sustainable plan.”

The A27 is also a key dependency for the Local Plan, and Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester, has secured a further meeting with the Roads Minister, following her previous meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, to discuss improvements and funding for the A27.

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