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Chichester Local Plan Review update: 26 February 2021

The council is currently working on the Local Plan Review. This will set out our vision for the future of the district's economy; it will plan for transport and housing needs; it will look at how we can improve the lives of children and young people; it will consider the area's environmental needs; it will support our health and wellbeing; and will ensure that we continue to have a rich arts and cultural environment.

Chichester Local Plan branding

The plan, which will cover all of the areas in the district that do not fall within the South Downs National Park, will help to manage and shape development and provide much needed housing in our area over the next 15 years. It will also help to protect the important environmental and historic qualities of the area, while addressing the district's future housing and employment development needs.

This is the first of a series of regular updates to keep you informed of our progress and to explain the areas of work that we are currently focusing on. It will also highlight how you can have your say throughout the process.

What will the Local Plan Review cover?

The Local Plan Review covers a wide variety of topics and so we have created the themes below to help people better understand the work that the plan covers.

  • Living and housing
  • Economy
  • Environment and greenspace
  • Getting around and transport
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Local community
  • Education and learning
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Facilities and services

Why do we need a local plan?

A Local Plan gives us the opportunity to create a better future for everyone. As jobs are created, earnings are increased, productivity is raised, living standards are improved, aspiration and skills are increased, the housing needs of local people are met, and better quality of services and facilities for those living in and visiting our area are provided. This is needed more than ever in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted on the district's economy, travel patterns and usage, as well as everyone's health and social wellbeing. The plan offers us the opportunity to become more resilient and to create a fairer, healthier, safer and greener district.

What progress have we made?

Even though the council has been responding to the current pandemic, the Local Plan Review has continued to be a top priority. We have been looking at all sorts of issues, including retail and the future of our High Streets; wildlife corridors to link the South Downs National Park with the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; climate change; and much more. However, two of the key themes that we are currently focusing on are roads and waste water.

Roads update

In order to meet the Government's housing targets, we need to make sure that the right roads and facilities are in place. We have carried out huge amounts of work, looking at where housing could possibly go and what new roads or improvements would be needed. This is a complex process because it requires us to carry out detailed assessments, accounting for all sorts of things, from the environmental impact to local economic needs.

This work, which has involved transport specialists, has identified that we need a series of improvements on the junctions on the A27, including a link road from the Fishbourne roundabout, to the Manhood Peninsula. Highways England has told us that the options we are suggesting will meet the additional pressure from future housing.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has agreed that the evidence points to the need for a link road if we are to meet the level of growth the Government expects. Our partners have agreed that this approach is needed while we wait for a long term decision from the Government on the A27.

We know that some people have said that these proposals are being withheld from communities. This is not true. The improvements to the A27 are contained in a transport study, which was part of the Preferred Approach consultation on the Local Plan in December 2018, and has been on our website since then. Further work, to assess whether there is any alternative option to a link road is currently being finalised and the intention is that it will be on our website in a few weeks.

The proposed link road would cross over land owned by WSCC and in their role as local highways authority, they have now asked us to carry out a much more detailed assessment on this so that the full benefits and impacts can be understood. Completing this work will take some time and will affect the current Local Plan timetable. This is a vital piece of evidence for the Planning Inspector who will review the plan, to consider whether it is acceptable for adoption.

Waste water update

Waste water has long been a problem in the South of the district. We have been lobbying Southern Water to explain what improvements will be required for some time. However, due to the dissatisfaction from our councillors about the progress made by Southern Water, we raised an official complaint with the Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, which oversees all waste water providers and is able to hold them to account.

Since then, we have recently been holding constructive meetings with Southern Water and the Environment Agency to look at what can be achieved.

In order to deliver the Local Plan, we need more waste water capacity. Southern Water has agreed to work with us jointly on identifying improvements that need to be made. Over the coming months, we will be developing a clear plan that will set out what is needed and how it will be achieved.

Why do we need to deliver these solutions?

Although we are not responsible for roads or waste water, these issues need to be resolved so that the infrastructure can be delivered to support the development needs of the plan. It is vital that we work with our partners to explore all options and ensure that we have the evidence to demonstrate the outcomes of our investigations. This is important, because when the Local Plan Review is submitted to the Planning Inspector to be formally examined, we have to show that we have done everything we can to consider all of the available options. If our evidence shows that certain things are not possible, as long as we have the evidence, the Inspector will take this into consideration when reviewing the targets that we have been set by Government.

How long will all of this take?

We are currently reviewing our timetable to take account of the additional evidence that is required. This will be considered by the council on 2 March 2021.

How will the district be protected from speculative development in the meantime?

Every planning application is considered by the council. As part of this process, we often have to consult with Southern Water, West Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Highways England. If any of these organisations highlight significant problems that cannot be overcome, then the application would be refused.

In addition to this, we have introduced an Interim Housing Policy Statement. This is part of our rule book for planning applications and this considers other factors, such as the protection of strategic wildlife corridors and Environment Agency advice on flooding. This approach gives us the best possible position to manage planning applications until the Local Plan Review is agreed.

We appreciate that some people have called for the council to demand a moratorium on planning applications. Even if we could delay investment in homes and jobs, under law, developers have the right to submit planning applications which must be determined within agreed timescales. If not, they have a right of appeal to Planning Inspectors and we may even be found to have acted unreasonably, with applicants' appeal costs awarded against us.

How can I find out more?

You can find out more about the work we are doing on our website at .

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