Replacement Chichester industrial estate given the go ahead

Chichester District Council has approved its own plans to demolish and rebuild the St James Industrial Estate.

The estate, in Westhampnett Road, was built in the 1950s and 1980s and has long been seen as outdated.

It will be rebuilt on much the same footing, with one large central block and four smaller ones, though the new development will be higher than the old.

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The application has proved somewhat controversial, with rumours abound that the council already has a tenant lined up for the main block, namely a chocolate manufacturer.

While those rumours were not confirmed, at a meeting of the planning committee on Wednesday (November 4), John-Henry Bowden (Lib Dem, Chichester West) said: “It seems that the needs of this tenant are driving this development.”

One of his concerns, which was shared by others, was the decision to withdraw a planning condition which limited the use of the site from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Instead, a Noise Management Plan will be drawn up.

Having recently assured residents that the site would not be open ’24/7′, Mr Bowden said he was worried not only about the potential impact on those living nearby but also the council’s reputation.

It was a view shared by Sarah Sharp (Green, Chichester South), who said: “It gives the impression that we’re not going to be controlling the site very well.”

In the end, though, the identity of any future tenants held no weight on planning grounds and the application was approved by seven votes to four.

Karen Dunn , Local Democracy Reporting Service