Rolls-Royce Motor Cars submits planning application for major extension at its Chichester home - this is everything you need to know about it

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars formally submitted a planning application for a proposed extension at its Home at Goodwood near Chichester in West Sussex on September 1, 2023.
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The move comes 20 years after the world-famous luxury motor car manufacturer first began production at the plant - still the only place in the world where its cars are designed and built.

As Sussex World and the Chichester Observer reported in February 2022, Rolls-Royce has acquired land to the east of its existing 42-acre site at Westhampnett. In the planning application, the company says the extension will allow it to upgrade its current production facilities in readiness for its new electric vehicles and replace old and obsolete equipment. It will also add capacity for Bespoke customisation and one-off Coachbuild projects.

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You can read the full planning application on Chichester District Council’s planning portal The reference is 23/01855/FULEIA.

Indicative visual – aerial view from North East. Photo supplied by Rolls-Royce Motor CarsIndicative visual – aerial view from North East. Photo supplied by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Indicative visual – aerial view from North East. Photo supplied by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce has also created an online information hub which includes a digital version of its new promotional booklet, full details of the application and a fly-through video

The planning application explains that, while the existing plant has seen significant changes internally - most notably going from two production lines to one - the building itself is essentially the same as it was on Day One. But it also points out that in 20 years, almost every aspect of Rolls-Royce’s business has changed significantly.

In 2003, it employed around 200 people. Today, it is one of the largest employers in the Chichester area with a workforce of more than 2,500, and with 150 new jobs created in 2022 alone. It has also grown from producing roughly one car a day to selling more than 6,000 a year.

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According to an independent study in 2022 by the London School of Economics, Rolls-Royce now pumps around half a billion pounds into the UK economy every year, around 20% of which is contributed directly within the local community.

The company is keen to stress that the plans do not signal any change in its fundamental approach or values. As CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told the Observer last year: “Rolls-Royce is not, never has been and never will be a volume-driven business.”

The plans take account of the site’s unique location, close to the South Downs National Park boundary on the south-west corner of the historic Goodwood Estate. Like the original building, the new extension will be highly sustainable, and largely invisible at ground level. Around one-third of the new site will be landscaped, reflecting the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting local wildlife and biodiversity.

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Understandably, some nearby residents are wary of what the proposals might mean for them and their communities. Although Rolls-Royce isn’t required by law to consult on its plans, the company invited over 700 local households to three information sessions at its headquarters, and a fourth held at Westhampnett Village Hall. In total, over 300 people attended.

Rolls-Royce told the Observer that it is working closely with the parish council, residents and the local authorities to address any issues raised at the sessions, adding that the feedback has generally been positive, including many constructive ideas and suggestions.

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Approached for comment, a spokesperson for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars told the Observer: “Since Rolls-Royce chose to make its home in Chichester more than 20 years ago, it’s become a Great British success story, making a major economic contribution to Chichester, West Sussex and ‘UK plc’. With this proposed extension, we’re looking to future-proof our business, safeguarding local jobs and creating opportunities and prosperity for decades to come. To use the words of co-founder Sir Henry Royce, we’re taking the best that exists, and making it better.”

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