Although it is a big shock when big stores like House of Fraser announce store closures, it's important to look at the overall picture. Our High Streets are actually doing well in comparison to other cities and towns. The average shop vacancy rate is 16%, yet in Chichester, ours is 7% - one of the lowest in the country. Our High Streets in our towns are also doing well.

I am absolutely confident that the House of Fraser site will not remain vacant for long and that the city will continue to strengthen its position. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to support our High Streets. However, it's important that people understand that we have no control over who goes into the shops. This is determined by the landlord of each building.

As a council we are working hard to support our local businesses and attract people to visit our city and towns. This includes delivering grants and training, delivering events that will encourage people to visit; working on the vision projects; supporting the BID; and, much more.

Last year, the Chichester Vision was approved. This is a partnership project, not only involving the local councils, but key organisations and attractions, including Chichester BID, Visit Chichester, the Cathedral, University, College and even Goodwood. We asked residents and businesses how they would like Chichester to develop over the next 20 years and the approved version of the vision brought these ideas together with a detailed action plan. We have already started to work on these projects with our partners and we plan to keep you informed of our progress.

As local residents and businesses we all appreciate how wonderful our city and its surrounding towns and villages are and we are proud of what is on offer. What's important is that we all join together to protect, enhance and promote it, so that we attract investment; create jobs and homes; and, most importantly, that Chichester continues to be one of the best places to live in the UK.

Councillor Tony Dignum

Leader of Chichester District Council

July 2018