The future of Chichester - a special forum at the Festival of Chichester

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On Monday, June 17 1974 the Chichester Society gathered together around 1,000 people in a landmark moment in the history of Chichester conservation, a genuinely historic meeting in Chichester Cathedral.

50 years later to the very day and also on a Monday, the Chichester Society will commemorate that meeting with a special event which – just as the Cathedral meeting did in 1974 – will look to the future of the city.

Part of the Chichester Society’s programme of 50th anniversary events, they are offering an evening entitled Your Ideas for our City.

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A key event in this year’s Festival of Chichester event, it will be Monday, June 17 at 7pm in the Assembly Room, The Council House, North Street, Chichester, PO19 1LQ.

Chichester Society founder David Goodman (contributed pic)Chichester Society founder David Goodman (contributed pic)
Chichester Society founder David Goodman (contributed pic)

It is being organised by Chichester Society member John Templeton, an event which, while honouring the society’s great heritage, will very much look at the challenges the city faces in the years to come. It will be chaired by Festival of Chichester chairman and Sussex newspapers arts editor Phil Hewitt. The format will be a panel discussion involving people deeply involved in Chichester life who are concerned about the future of our historic city. It will be a free event open to all, but booking is essential via the Festival website or through the Novium.

John said: “Last year we had an event looking at how David Goodman founded the society and now this year we are wanting to look forward.”

Appropriately it will be 50 years to the day since David organised a key public meeting at the cathedral in a year, 1974, of great significance for the city..

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“First of all we managed to stop the demolition of the redundant New Park School. We persuaded the new district council to preserve it. There were a number of district councillors who had been city councillors who agreed that it should not be pulled down and that it should be invested in. It was so important. It was going to be demolished because of the wretched planning structure but local community groups had already started using it. The new district council said that it was unsafe but fortunately the new district council had a change of heart and it was saved.

“The second big thing that year was the cathedral meeting on June 17 1974, and I thought we would commemorate that by having a similar meeting this year. It was about the proposed development of Crane Street and Chapel Street. There was a big commercial development proposed but we managed to scupper that in September 1974. David Goodman's idea was that we should have a big meeting and put Chichester on the map and let people know that something really bad was happening in Chichester. The meeting was held in the cathedral and attracted more than 1,000 people.

"It was totally successful. It was an amazing meeting. I saw that June 17 was also going to be a Monday this year and I managed to book the Assembly Room.

“And there are similarities now. 50 years ago we had the new district council which had just been created . This year we've got a new administration at the district council.”

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