Council vows to find ways to progress with key projects regardless of disappointing bid outcome
Chichester District Council has vowed to find ways to move forward with key projects that it believes will deliver an economic boost to the district, even though the Government turned down its £13.7 million bid for Levelling Up funds.
As home to some of the most renowned cultural institutions in the country, the council bid for Government funds to help connect and enhance Chichester city's cultural highlights, key landmarks, and sporting organisations, in and around the city, with a focus on Northgate; Priory Park; and the proposed Cathedral Square.
"The government was inundated with bids from councils across the country - they received 525 bids in total - and these were largely assessed on levels of deprivation in each area. Unfortunately, this meant that our bid missed out on this occasion," says Cllr Eileen Lintill, Leader of Chichester District Council.
"We only recently became eligible to apply for this funding, and only had a short window within which we could apply, but we were determined to do everything we could to try and secure funding through this route. Unfortunately, on this occasion it was not meant to be.
"However, we still believe our proposals, which directly address the feedback we have received from residents, businesses and visitors, have the ability to play a vital role in the economic recovery of both the city and district and would provide a catalyst for regeneration, success and connecting our communities. Due to this, we will continue to work incredibly hard to bring these projects to fruition regardless of the result of this process and have already started to progress elements of them."
The council has already started to take steps to move forward with some elements of the proposals, including the proposed 3G community football pitch at Chichester City Football ground in Oaklands Park. An application has been submitted to the Football Foundation and the council has already allocated £300,000 of Section 106 money to the project. Plans have also been developed and a planning application is being prepared for the new scheme. Improvement plans for the public conveniences in Priory Park are also progressing, with the design and layout in the process of being agreed. It is proposed that £700,000 will be invested in refurbishing five public conveniences across the district, of which the Priory Park location is one.
Cllr Adrian Moss, Leader of the Opposition at Chichester District Council, adds: "The population in and around the city continues to grow. We want all of our residents to be able to maximise the cultural, shopping and businesses opportunities on their doorstep. It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful on this occasion, but we are still committed to finding ways in which we can still move forward with our proposals. We believe that they will deliver visible change and provide a much more welcoming, accessible and greener city, which will significantly benefit residents, businesses and visitors.
Steve Waight, Cabinet Member for Support Services and Economic Development at West Sussex County Council said: "We are disappointed that we have not been successful in this round of funding, with over 500 bids submitted nationally we appreciate this is a very competitive process. We are committed to supporting Chichester to continue to grow and flourish and will continue to work with key partners in the area to bring projects that support this aim to fruition. Providing safe, accessible and attractive spaces that make the most of the city's key cultural, retail and leisure assets will remain a key focus of the Chichester growth deal and the vision set out by the District Council and local stakeholders."
Projects included in the original proposal included:
- Northgate: As one of the key gateways to Chichester, the area would be transformed into a more welcoming and accessible area of the city. A significant focus would be to improve pedestrian and cycling routes between some of the key attractions and facilities in Chichester to the city centre. The project would include improvements to the car park to welcome people to the city, in addition to improvements to the public realm, landscaping and lighting. The introduction of a 3G community football pitch would provide a year-round facility, which can accommodate a greater number of people than the current grass pitch, providing further opportunities for local communities.
- Priory Park: The ageing buildings in one of Chichester's most popular parks, would be renovated and brought back into use, providing much needed community, sporting, and creative business space. The public toilets in the park would be refurbished, including improved disabled facilities; and the play park would be improved and made more accessible. The improvements would regenerate this area of the park and attract more visitors to this popular location.
- Cathedral Square: In direct response to the public feedback received on the future vision for Chichester, improvements at the heart of the city would be delivered. Plans have been created that focus on improvements to West Street and the Cathedral Green to create an open.
Date of release: 19 January 2023