Chichester District Council has started the process of reviewing the Local Plan. This is an important document as it has statutory authority unlike things like the recent Chichester Vision document. It is the basis on which a lot of development decisions are made.

Forward planning

The Local Plan is one of the most important documents for our district as it describes how our communities will appear over the next 15 years (except those areas within the South Downs National Park). It offers a great opportunity to propose jobs, homes and facilities of the right type, in the right place and at the right time, to benefit present and future generations. This includes describing where houses, roads, services and facilities will be best located.

The Government requires the CDC to write a Local Plan, based upon an increase in the number of people expected to be living in the area. We can see that there is a huge shortage of suitable homes; jobs that provide high enough wages to buy a home; and important facilities and services. Many people cannot afford to live in this area, where they work, and many younger people don’t look for jobs here because they cannot afford the housing costs. The Local Plan offers the Council the opportunity to try and address these issues. This is our chance to work together to make sure that our district has a bright future, with a strong economy, and a thriving working age population. By producing this plan the Council is showing that it will accept change, but more importantly, that they are in control of this change.

If the CDC do not write a plan, there will not be anything against which they can test planning applications. If they reject a development without good reason for doing so, most developers will successfully appeal against the decision. We saw this with the recent discussions on Whitehouse Farm. The District may still have to accommodate this development but this may be in an unsuitable location. Also, without a plan, developers will not have any obligation to pay towards the delivery of existing and new local facilities.

Housing

We also need more affordable housing. In the future there will be no Government funding available for this. The only way we can influence this is by requiring developers to deliver a proportion of affordable homes within a local plan. If we are to encourage our young people to stay in the district, we need to make sure that more houses of this type are available.

For each new home built, the Government will also give the District a financial bonus. Some of this money will be protected for those communities that deliver new homes. It will be used to improve their local facilities, for example the creation of a village hall or play area. In addition to this, the Local Plan will require developers to pay an additional amount for every property they build. This will also be invested directly into the community.

Any houses that are built will be in line with the number that has been built in the district in the last 5 years – which is around 395 units a year. The only difference is that the CDC will be highlighting the locations that have the capacity to grow.

Standing still is not an option. Without the Local Plan the CDC will not be able to access vital funds to support our communities. By controlling new developments they have the opportunity to focus development in the most appropriate locations. This is why it is incredibly important that they get this piece of work right – and keep it up to date.

The future of our district

Planning affects all of our lives. It affects where we live, work and relax; where new shops and community facilities are built; and it protects our historic buildings and environment. The Local Plan will cover those areas in the district that do not fall within the South Downs National Park.

Chichester District is an incredibly special place and the CDC say they want to keep it that way. The Local Plan will help to protect the area, whilst also addressing the district’s needs.

The Local Plan helps to:

  • protect the character and beauty of the district
  • make it easier to move around the district safely and conveniently
  • provide job and housing opportunities so that our children can continue to work and live locally
  • support and help to boost the local economy
  • help our residents to maintain healthy and active lifestyles
  • and make sure that we have adequate services, travel options and community facilities.

Your committee will keep you posted on the progress of this important review.

Adapted from a CDC information document.


Colin Hicks

Webmaster, Westgate Residents' Association Chichester

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