Government advisors have reassured Chichester District Council that the best course of action is to make sure that all of the necessary evidence is in place to show that the plan strategy is a sound one, even if this means extending the time taken.

"While we were told that we could not be treated as an exception, the support we have received from Government officials has been immensely helpful," says Eileen Lintill, Leader of Chichester District Council.

"By taking more time now and making sure that we work with our residents, businesses and partners to identify the best options, we should be able to access a quicker examination process and more importantly, deliver the right approach for the Chichester Local Plan area. This will provide communities with the certainty that they need moving forward.

"It is imperative that we get this right because we are facing some very complex issues. When we met with the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, Luke Hall, we also 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. Assurance was 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 Highways England, where we will be discussing improvements and funding for the A27. This meeting is due to take place in April.

"It's vital that we keep residents, businesses and partners informed of our progress and involved in this important piece of work, which is why we wanted to update people on our latest position. Since we last consulted with our residents, businesses and partners, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to carry out further investigative work, as well as making the Government aware of our complex situation.

"We all know that our district is an incredibly special place and we want to keep it that way. Over the coming months we will be updating you on our progress and will be consulting with people again, before the draft plan is submitted. Until then, we will continue to scrutinise planning applications to make sure that they meet the appropriate standards."

Following the advice we have received, the timetable for the Chichester Local Plan is being updated and this will be made available as soon as it is ready. People can find out about the latest information by visiting the Local Plan Review web page, or by signing up to regular updates by emailing their name and email address to planningpolicy@chichester.gov.uk

Date of release: 21 February 2020

Reference: 3958