Cllr Eileen Lintill joined the Chief Executive of Chichester District Council, Diane Shepherd, and Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan at the meeting last week.

Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, secured the meeting following letters sent to the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, from Chichester District Council and Gillian, requesting more time to review the plan due to the complex issues currently facing the Chichester Local Plan area.

At the meeting, the group discussed the need to develop a nutrient neutral policy for the Chichester Harbour Catchment area; the need for improvements and funding for the A27 bypass; and the increased need to take account of growing environmental issues.

In response, the Minister recognised the significant challenges that the council was currently facing and has offered the council support to help it meet its deadline to submit its Local Plan by July 2020. However, he explained that there was no mechanism within national planning guidance to extend the deadline for an individual authority.

Assurance was also given that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government was already working with DEFRA, Natural England, the Environment Agency and local authorities in the Solent area, to help find a strategic solution to improve water quality in Chichester Harbour and along the Solent.

The A27 is also a key dependency for the Local Plan, and Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester, has secured a further meeting with the Roads Minister, following her previous meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, to discuss improvements and funding for the A27.

"Although we are disappointed that there is no mechanism to extend the deadline, we have taken up the offer of support from the Minister of Local Government and Homelessness to help us meet this critical deadline," says Cllr Eileen Lintill, Leader of Chichester District Council.

"Our Chief Executive has already arranged to meet with the Planning Advisory Service and officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government next week, to move this forward.

"While meeting with the Minister, we raised our concerns about the housing numbers that we are expected to take. The Minister explained that the housing numbers are based on housing need and not on the capacity of the plan area to deliver them. As Chichester is one of the most unaffordable places to live, an affordability ratio is applied, which increases the amount of housing that is needed in the area. If we believe we do not have the capacity to deliver our housing numbers, then we must support this with strong evidence, which will be tested at public examination. However, if the evidence shows that we can meet the numbers, then we will be required to plan for the number of houses set by the Government.

"What is vital now is to make sure that we meet the July 2020 deadline. If we don't achieve this, our housing numbers will increase and we will lose control of where development should take place. This is why it is vital that we all work together to make sure that we deliver a sustainable plan."

After the meeting Gillian said, "I am grateful to the Minister for his time and his clear willingness to support our Council in getting their Local Plan to a place where its councillors can approve it.

"I will continue to support Chichester District Council where I can, and work with local communities to ensure their voices are being heard. I have already met with several campaign groups and I am due to meet with the 11 Parish Councils from the Manhood in the near future."

Date of release: 24 October 2019

Reference: 3932