Chichester District Council urged to put Chichester Local Plan on hold

Chichester District Council has been urged to put the Chichester Local Plan on hold, following news that the Government is likely to revise its new homes plan.
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John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust, and Jeremy Hunt, chairman of Chichester Harbour Conservancy, sent a letter to council leader Eileen Lintill and councillors yesterday, following revelations in the press over the weekend.

They had met in person on Friday to discuss an update on the Local Plan but wanted to follow up in writing as the whole issue of Government planning policy had later been ‘thrown up in the air’.

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The letter said: “The change in policy appears to apply to the white paper, and the so-called mutant algorithm. We will all need to see the detail before coming to any conclusions.

John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust. Picture: Kate Shemilt C130734-3John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust. Picture: Kate Shemilt C130734-3
John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust. Picture: Kate Shemilt C130734-3

“While this is most welcome, for Chichester the immediate issue is the Local Plan, its construction and its timing. The significant government change of approach, relates, inter alia, to housing on brownfield sites, city and town centres, retail (accelerated by Covid) and on the north versus south question.

“Unless we act quickly, we are in danger of starting to put in place a plan that does maximum environmental, landscape, wildlife and biodiversity damage to the area, and to Chichester Harbour in particular; and this without taking into account the new policy which may turn out to be far more sensible and should reduce the housing allocation for our district.”

The trust and the conservancy are calling for three immediate steps to be taken by the district council.

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They would like to see an immediate application to Government for the Local Plan timetable to be put on hold while the detail of the new government policy is developed.

Mr Nelson accepts that a previous request for a delay was rejected but points out ‘the whole atmosphere’ is changing and he believes, with a strongly-worded case, the chances of getting a delay now are much higher.

They want the council to impose a moratorium on all new significant housing development and planning applications, at least until the infrastructure issues, in particular water treatment, have been dealt with.

And they would like to invoke a change of culture within the council’s planning.

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The letter said: “It is clear CDC are continuing to pursue the current Local Plan, one which many councillors and local communities are unhappy with. This plan was conceived a considerable time ago and circumstances have changed. It needs a new approach involving imagination and flexibility.

“All of this will allow a completely new and modern examination of the district’s housing requirements, in line with what will be a new government approach.”

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