DUNCAN BARKES A victory for common sense over diehard nimbyism...

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It seems there is more than a sprinkling of Cicestrians who make it their business to hinder progress; ‘Not In My Back Yard’ merchants can often be observed, up in arms, at a potential development.

Thankfully, the outcome of a recent case has seen a NIMBY contingent lose out to common sense.

I am talking about the application made to the licensing and gambling sub committee of Chichester District Council to run a restaurant business in the basement and groundfloor of One Northgate, that majestic and currently vacant Georgian building at the top of North Street.

Despite protests from residents in neighbouring Franklin Place, a licence has been granted.

The business in question plans to serve ‘high end food,’ presumably to a clientele largely drawn from audiences at the nearby Festival Theatre who might be looking for posh nosh either pre or post their theatrical entertainment.

Objections included a possible increase in late night noise and parking problems.

There were concerns about public disorder and the slamming of car doors.

With the greatest of respect, these objections are pretty lame.

Parking in this part of town is pretty restricted as it is, especially the strip of road outside Franklin Place.

Anyone driving to the theatre or having a meal at the new restaurant would surely be parking in the big Northgate car park, which has almost 1,000 spaces.

As for concerns regarding public disorder, if the proposed business was going to be a cheap ale house that screened football matches at all hours of the day and night, then there might be some weight behind this argument.

What do they think these patrons will do – sing blue versions of songs from classic musicals and have punch-ups over which Shakespearian actor gave the best Hamlet?

However, the relevant committee granted a licence and also put in place certain measures that will hopefully satisfy some of the resident’s concerns.

These include monitoring of noise levels and the installation of CCTV.

I have lived in Chichester for many years and I love it, but this anti progress attitude is in danger of holding the city back.

In these challenging economic times we should be embracing entrepreneurs who wish to invest in Chichester, not trying to knock them back at every opportunity.

Surely even die-hard protesters would rather have a business that brings money and employment to the city than a boarded-up building at the entrance of one of its main thoroughfares?