Business Bites: Changing times for Chichester

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A monthly column that looks at the issues faced by businesses in Chichester by Lucia Barbato, CEO, Ilex Content Strategies & Business Ambassador for Sage House, Dementia Support.

Since my last column the General Election has been called and Chichester has a new MP, Jess Brown-Fuller. I did follow up with my promise to see if the proposal of an hour free parking in Chichester could get off the ground. I couldn’t report on this due to restrictions during purdah. Now that the election is over, I am pleased to say that the answer, in short, is maybe but not this financial year at least.

I booked a meeting with Jess Brown-Fuller, our new MP (who was then the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Chichester) who is also a district councillor. The Liberal Democrats currently run Chichester district council, which includes parking.

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After a lengthy and detailed discussion with Jess and some of her team, it was agreed that the idea of a trial of an hour free parking would be proposed to the parking forum. Avenue de Chartres car park would be the suggested location for the trial. While this is progress don’t get your hopes up too soon. The forum doesn’t meet again until the autumn, and any trial would need to be from April 2025 as the budgeting for the financial year has already been done. Watch this space.

Lucia Barbato, CEO, Ilex Content Strategies & Business Ambassador, Sage HouseLucia Barbato, CEO, Ilex Content Strategies & Business Ambassador, Sage House
Lucia Barbato, CEO, Ilex Content Strategies & Business Ambassador, Sage House

What did come to light in that meeting which might be more useful to local businesses right away was the district council’s economic development team. This is currently helping local businesses apply for green energy grants and has been used to advise, liaise and signpost local businesses to further resources. More information on what advice and support the district council can give to local businesses is available here.

This morning the new Chancellor Rachel Reeve’s made two announcements which could have direct implications on our district.

The first was to lift the ban on onshore wind farms in England. Onshore wind is generated by turbines located on land. In the local area you can see plenty out at sea. This announcement means areas where winds can be captured, such as the coast, could now potentially see these wind farms built on land instead. While we need to ensure our energy supplies are secure and efforts must be made to move away from fossil fuels, where these turbines go will be of critical importance to local people. A fine balance must be made between future proofing our energy supply and protecting the beauty of our coastal landscapes.

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The second announcement by Reeves today which could impact our area directly was higher mandatory housing targets. Again, there is no doubt that more housing is needed. Where that housing is located however is much more nuanced. In Chichester we have seen the congestion on the roads caused by builds which have not included expanding the existing infrastructure, not to mention the waterworks which are struggling to cope, as well as public services such as GP surgeries. The overhaul of planning restrictions and the commitment to 1.5 million homes in England in the next 5 years suggests that Chichester may well be the recipient of some of the new homes. This will be welcomed by local people struggling to get on the housing ladder. We must hope that this will be accompanied by a sensible plan to alleviate road congestion and support local services.

Lastly, Sage House was awarded the ‘Best overall business’ and ‘Innovation’ award at the inaugural Chichester Chamber of Commerce awards. It’s testament to the teams’ amazing work in supporting local people living with dementia and their families. I’m very proud to be a Business Ambassador for such a worthy cause. If you’d like to support the charity in any way, or experience it’s work first hand, check out the events page on the website.

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