Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour campaign launches

The Chichester Local Plan will play a key part in controlling and shaping development in the district, ensuring much-needed housing is provided in our area over the next 15 years.

This district is an incredibly special place and it is important it stays that way as changes start to take effect.

An aerial photograph of the top of Chichester Harbour and the A259 corridor

An aerial photograph of the top of Chichester Harbour and the A259 corridor

Read more: Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour: ‘This is the time for the community to act’

Read more: Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour: ‘We need to protect these important spaces for the next generation’

Read more: Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour: Chichester District Council responds

Major concerns have been raised about the impact on the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, one of the great conservation areas of Britain.

Today, this newspaper stands with the guardians of the harbour and calls on residents to speak out now to ensure this great jewel in the West Sussex crown is preserved and protected forever.

Chichester District Council’s current Local Plan was adopted in July 2015 but the government inspector said it had to be reviewed again within five years to ensure sufficient housing was planned to meet the needs of the area.

Stage one of the review process was carried out in June 2017 with a consultation regarding the overall development strategy and possible development locations. These responses were used to help draft the Preferred Approach Plan.

The Local Plan Review: Preferred Approach was the second stage of the process, setting out the proposed development strategy and policies for the area to meet future needs.

Comments were sought during an eight-week consultation period which ended in February.

The 270-page draft document detailed where the district council intends to build 650 new homes a year up to 2035. It also includes allocations for 219,700sqm of employment space, revisions of planning policies and upgrades to the A27 bypass, should funding not be found for a major scheme.

The plan makes provision for 12,350 new homes, equating to 650 dwellings a year. This is made up of 609 homes a year to meet the area’s objectively assessed housing need and 41 per year to cover the unmet need in the district’s part of the South Downs National Park.

A number of key sites for development are included in the Preferred Approach document, many of which include new primary schools, open space, employment units and community buildings.

Housing figures have been increased on major developments to 1,600 homes on land west of Chichester, known as Whitehouse Farm, 585 homes on land at Shopwhyke and a minimum of 1,300 homes on land west of Tangmere.

Another strategic site is east of Chichester, where 600 homes are planned as an ‘extension of Chichester city’ south of the Shopwhyke site. The 35-hectare area has been allocated homes but the plan notes potential for a ‘larger strategic development of 1,000 homes’.

Allocations include 350 units as part of the Southern Gateway project. The Local Plan Review also sets out a number of strategic development sites allocated within neighbourhood plans and parish housing requirement.

The council’s Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) identifies and assesses sites that may have potential to accommodate future housing and economic development.

The council says pockets of land are identified as available, not allocated for development in any way. The trust, and many residents, are looking to the future, though, and feel that once the land assessment is set in stone and agreed, this land will indeed be targeted for development.

On its website, the council points out the HELAA is a technical study, not a policy document, and its purpose is to identify a future supply of land suitable, available and achievable for housing and economic development, such as employment, retail and leisure, over the plan period.

The council explains its assessment of the sites does not indicate they will be allocated in the Chichester Local Plan Review or imply the council will grant planning permission for any specific development in the future.

We know the trust is not a lone voice in raising concerns. Residents of Fishbourne, Chidham and Hambrook, Southbourne and Bosham are also concerned. In the coming weeks we plan to give you, the residents, a voice, to tell your story and highlight your concerns for the future.

A council spokesman said: “Within the pre-election period, legal restrictions on communications activity are in place. This means that we are able to provide responses to media enquiries but we are unable to use any of our councillors as spokespeople during this time.”

Email Elaine Hammond at elaine.hammond@jpimedia.co.uk or call 01903 282378.