With Chichester District Council’s local plan out of date and the adoption of a review several years away developers have started lodging speculative applications in inappropriate locations.
Given the district’s available developable land is squeezed between the South Downs National Park and Chichester Harbour the case has been repeatedly been made for unachievable housing targets to be reduced.
Inadequate road and wastewater infrastructure have both been raised by campaigners.
Last week Chichester MP Gillian Keegan wrote again to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for special consideration for the Chichester district.
In her letter she highlighted the challenges this area faces due to road and sewerage infrastructure issues and expressed the council leader’s request to revert the current assessed housing need back to the 2015 level of 435 dwellings a year.
She also requested a joint meeting with Mr Jenrick which is currently being arranged.
This week, Ms Keegan said: “There are no quick fixes to the challenges we are facing. I have been working closely with Chichester District Council to support their efforts wherever my interventions can help.
“I hope all groups in the council, no matter which party they represent, work together – we need everyone to pull in the same direction to get the best for our area.
“Without such collaborative working, we will only be more vulnerable to speculative development.
“I will continue to use the full power of my office to ensure our concerns are heard in Government, and that local agencies are supporting our work to plan the houses our area desperately needs in a sustainable way.”
Although she has no direct power or any statutory duties over planning, Ms Keegan has been assisting CDC’s work on the review of its local plan. She led a meeting with Southern Water and representatives from both councils. She has also been working with the Environment Agency and regulator OFWAT to keep up the pressure on the utility company and is developing further plans on a regional basis to further this work.
She also met Rebecca Power, minister for the environment, along with other local MPs to ask for her support in their efforts to get Southern Water’s improvement programme moving faster.
As well as continuing to lobby government on the issue of development and the environment, Mrs Keegan has met with, and taken action on behalf of, local groups across the Manhood Peninsula and around the harbour, asking other statutory bodies, such as Natural England about their environmental impact assessment of the area, which has led to further work by their department and the MP has planned a further meeting with the body later this week.
Last year, she held several meetings with Government colleagues including with the minister for housing, Chris Pincher.