£13.7million sought by Chichester District Council to 'level up' the city

A £13.7 million bid to help revitalise Chichester has been submitted to the government by Chichester District Council.

The bid focuses on three main areas within the it including Northgate; Priory Park; and the proposed Cathedral Square, has been submitted under the government’s Levelling Up Fund, which seeks to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund aims to support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

If successful, the money would be added to contributions from Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and Chichester City Council, making a total investment of £16.5 million and would bring significant benefits across the city, including:Northgate: As one of the key gateways to Chichester, the area would be transformed into a more welcoming and accessible area of the city, the a CDC spokesperson said.

The Guildhall in Priory Park

A significant focus would be to improve pedestrian and cycling routes between some of the key attractions and facilities in Chichester to the city centre. The project would include improvements to the car park to welcome people to the city, in addition to improvements to the public realm, landscaping and lighting. The introduction of a 3G community football pitch would provide a year-round facility, which can accommodate a greater number of people than the current grass pitch, providing further opportunities for local communities.

Priory Park: The ageing buildings in one of Chichester’s most popular parks, would be renovated and brought back into use, providing much needed community, sporting, and creative business space. The public toilets in the park would be refurbished, including improved disabled facilities; and the play park would be improved and made more accessible. The improvements would regenerate this area of the park and attract more visitors to this popular location.

Cathedral Square: In direct response to the public feedback received on the future vision for Chichester, improvements at the heart of the city would be delivered. Plans have been created that focus on improvements to West Street and the Cathedral Green to create an open-air event space named ‘Cathedral Square’. The proposal seeks to grow Chichester into a key destination and provide an attractive area for visitors, workers, and residents.

Cllr Eileen Lintill, leader of Chichester District Council said: ““As we start to recover from the pandemic, and with the significant rise in the cost of living, both businesses and residents are continuing to find the current financial climate incredibly tough. If successful, the bid would play a vital role in the economic recovery of both the city and district and would be a catalyst for regeneration, success and connecting our communities.

“The city has huge potential. This project provides us with the chance to better connect key cultural organisations and landmarks around the city and make Chichester more accessible. This would provide significant cultural, social, and economic benefits to the residents and businesses of the Chichester District.

“We have recently become eligible to apply for the fund and so wanted to do everything we could to try and secure funding through this route.

"There was a very small window of time in which we could submit a bid and so we are using this opportunity to bring together a series of projects that we have already started to consider through the Chichester Vision.

“Councils across the country are competing for the same grants, but we are working incredibly hard to bring these projects to fruition whatever the results of the process.

“We would also like to thank all of our partners, community groups and organisations, who are supporting this important bid.”

Cllr Adrian Moss, leader of the Opposition at Chichester District Council, added: “The population in and around the city continues to grow. We want all of our residents to be able to maximise the cultural, shopping and business opportunities on their doorstep.

"We have a thriving and growing student population, and these proposals are aimed at making the city more welcoming and accessible so that they feel part of the community. The area is also home to a high proportion of older people and so it is important that the city’s facilities, transport hubs and activities can be easily accessed on foot and by bike.

“The plans that the District Council has put forward within the bid directly address the feedback received from residents, businesses, and visitors. They want safe, accessible links that bring each area of the city together; welcoming event space; improvements to the public realm, improvements to the main park; and easy access to local transport hubs.

"By unlocking these long-held aspirations, the Levelling Up Fund will deliver visible change and provide a much more welcoming, accessible, and greener city, significantly benefiting residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Steve Waight, cabinet member for support services and economic development at West Sussex County Council, said: “The county council supports Chichester District Council’s Levelling Up funding bid to enable significant improvements to the access and quality of key culture and heritage locations around Chichester. These public realm improvements will particularly support the city’s visitor economy.”

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan said: “These projects will make a visible and tangible difference to the city. The investment plans will help connect and grow our already impressive cultural offering and stimulate economic growth as we recover from the pandemic.

“I want to thank the council and everyone who’s worked on this bid to take advantage of the Government's levelling-up support. I have written to the Secretary of State to lend my full support and I look forward to hearing the outcome!”

The government is expected to make a decision in Autumn of this year.