If you are interested in watching, it will be available as a webcast online . You can find the agenda on our website .

We recognise that residents feel very strongly about many of the issues that the plan has to consider. What is difficult for people to understand is that while we may be delivering the Local Plan - many elements of it, mainly roads and waste water, are out of our control. This is what makes this process so challenging. The Local Plan is a bit like a jigsaw and you have to make sure that all of the pieces fit. What is vital is the evidence. The Government has set the housing target and we have to show that we have considered every single option to try and reach this and that we have the evidence to back this up. Just to give you an idea - our officers have already produced 41 different policy documents. They have been working flat out to try and move this forward - and it has continued to be a top priority for us, even though we have also been responding to the pandemic.

Over the past couple of years, we have sent letters and been involved in meetings with Government officials to explain the complex issues affecting the Chichester plan area. Recently, the Chief Executive and I, along with Gillian Keegan MP and Andrew Griffith MP, met with the Minister for Housing to discuss these issues and to request that the area is treated as an exceptional case. Unfortunately, the request was not agreed. It was also made clear by the Minister that if the council believes that the evidence collected shows the area cannot meet its full housing needs then the Local Plan may be submitted for examination on that basis. Over this period the council has also involved the Government's Planning Advisory Service and has been highlighting concerns to the planning inspectorate. I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to move this forward as quickly as we can - but we are dealing with some very challenging issues.

It's worth pointing out that we have robust measures in place to protect the plan area from inappropriate speculative development until the Local Plan Review is adopted. I know this is something that people are concerned about. Every planning application is considered carefully by the council. As part of this process, we consult with relevant organisations such as Southern Water, West Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Highways England. If any of these organisations highlight significant problems which cannot be overcome, then an 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.

We need to make sure that we follow the process and gather the evidence in order to get the best outcome for our residents and businesses and keep planning decisions locally. Residents are encouraged to sign up to the council's regular email newsletter which focuses on the Local Plan.

I hope you had a lovely summer and look forward to providing you with my next district dispatch at the beginning of September.

 

Best Wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council