Chichester Local Plan Review update: 20 May 2021
Planning affects where we live, work and relax; where new shops and community facilities are built; and it protects our historic buildings and the natural environment.
The Local Plan addresses all of these issues and more, helping to make Chichester more resilient and create a fairer, healthier, safer and greener area. This is more important than ever in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and gives us the opportunity to create a better future for our residents and businesses.
Because the Local Plan covers such a wide variety of topics, we have created themes to help people better understand the work that the plan covers. In this newsletter, we'll explore these themes and explain what each of these mean and why they are important.
Housing and Economy
A key aim of the Local Plan is to help control and shape development and provide much needed housing in our area over the next 15 years.
You may remember that our Local Plan was adopted in July 2015. At that time, the Local Plan was approved but the Government Inspector said that we had to review it again in the short-term to ensure sufficient housing was planned to meet the needs of the area. Since then, the Government has changed the way it calculates future housing needs and this means that we are now expected to take more housing within our area.
The job of the Local Plan Review is to explore how the targets could be achieved and to evidence if this is possible or not. It is then for the Planning Inspector to decide if the targets need to be reviewed.
There's a high demand for housing and our young people are finding it difficult to get on the property ladder as first time buyers or renters. We want those who grow up here to have the option to stay here - and so we need to make sure that there are homes of the right prices and type, that will enable us to do this. Unfortunately, there is limited Government funding available for affordable housing. This is why the Local Plan is so important, because it requires developers to deliver a proportion of affordable homes that are suitable for local families and young people.
The Local Plan also helps to control and shape development. Every time we receive a planning application, we look at the Local Plan to assess whether planning permission should be granted. This is because the plan sets out what types of development should or shouldn't be permitted.
Another key role of the plan is to look at employment space and places where retail and leisure facilities should be provided. This is important because it helps to support the local economy. 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.
Climate Change and Environment
We are incredibly lucky to live and work in such a beautiful and biodiverse area, and we want to keep it that way. The Local Plan looks to identify areas that need to be protected, such as valued countryside, wildlife corridors, and open spaces. We have also brought forward a policy to protect wildlife corridors, which is the first time this type of initiative has been introduced. The plan also takes into account the impacts of climate change, including the importance of mitigating flood risk associated with new development. The National Planning Policy Framework puts a requirement on developers to consider the impacts of existing and future flood risk, from all sources including sea and rivers, for the lifetime of a development.
Getting Around and Transport
This theme looks at how we move into and around the plan area. In order to meet the Government's housing targets, we need to make sure that the right roads and transport networks are in place. A great deal of work has already been undertaken to review appropriate options, looking at where the housing could possibly go and what new roads or improvements would be needed.
This is not a simple exercise because it requires us to carry out detailed assessments, accounting for all sorts of things, from the environmental impact, to local economic needs. It's also important to point out that although this is included in the Local Plan, as we are responsible for identifying the infrastructure needed to support development, we are not the agency responsible for roads and transport. Any improvements would be delivered by the agencies responsible, which could include West Sussex County Council and Highways England. You can find an update on our progress in this area in our last email newsletter.
Health and Wellbeing
The Local Plan has an important role to play in helping to support the health and wellbeing of our residents. We work closely with health care providers to identify what additional health facilities may be needed in areas where additional housing is being considered. If needed, financial contributions from developers, or land provided by the developer on a new site, can be used to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. The Local Plan also considers how developments should be designed to support a healthy lifestyle, with safe places to walk and cycle, and offering access to green spaces and sport and leisure facilities, all of which can help physical and mental wellbeing.
The Local Plan isn't just about building new homes and creating new employment opportunities. It has an important role in creating a district that we can all be proud of and that meets local needs.
For each new home built, the Government gives the council a financial bonus. Some of this money is ring fenced for those communities that deliver new homes. This is then used to improve their local facilities, for example the creation of a village hall or play area.
In addition to this, the Local Plan policies and community infrastructure levy means that developers have to pay a financial contribution, or provide infrastructure, for every property they build. This money is already being invested in villages and towns that are taking new developments, with new community facilities.
Education and Learning
The Local Plan area has a good supply of pre-school, primary school and secondary school facilities. It is important to make sure that there is capacity within these schools to accommodate pupils from new development provided through the Local Plan. We work closely with West Sussex County Council, which is the local Education Authority, to determine whether new capacity would be required and if it is, whether this can be delivered through the expansion of existing facilities or whether new schools are needed as part of a new development. New provision will usually be secured through developer contributions.
In addition, Chichester College and the University of Chichester are both within the Local Plan area. These provide further and higher education facilities that offer opportunities for people to develop their skills and progress their learning. This can have an important and positive impact on the local economy by generating a more skilled and varied workforce and providing a range of jobs in each of the facilities.
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Our area offers a wealth of arts, culture and heritage, and the Local Plan plays a vital role in protecting not only historic buildings and features, but also community facilities, such as museums and galleries. Where development is proposed that could affect a particular asset, Local Plan policies can seek to protect it as part of the overall development.
The Local Plan can also promote new facilities that not only benefit existing residents, but will encourage visitors to the area. Where there is an identified need associated with new development, the Local Plan can help to make sure this is provided, either on-site or through developer contributions.
Services and Facilities
As you may be aware, in order to deliver the Local Plan, the right services and facilities need to be in place. One of the biggest issues facing the plan is the need more waste water capacity.
Waste water has long been a problem in the South of the district and we have been lobbying Southern Water to explain what improvements are required for some time. Following an official complaint to the Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, we have been holding constructive meetings with Southern Water and the Environment Agency. Southern Water has agreed to work with us jointly on identifying improvements that need to be made.
You can find an update on our progress in this area in our last email newsletter.
Transport update - evidence for the Southbourne railway bridge
You may remember that in December 2018, we published our 'Preferred Approach' draft plan, which included proposals for significant development in Southbourne. Following consideration of the consultation responses we received at the time, and in direct response to this and as part of our normal planning process, we commissioned a specific study to look at the transport implications of the proposed development.
The main focus of this study was to determine whether a new crossing over the railway line in Southbourne village would be required as part of that development. The study, which was conducted by specialist transport consultants, assessed the expected growth in traffic and the current operation of the railway crossings. This was done in consultation with West Sussex County Council, which is the local Highway Authority.
It concluded that while a new crossing would be beneficial should a certain level of development be reached, the impacts of the proposed development on the transport network were not considered severe enough that a new crossing would be required to facilitate any development. It is important to point out that this is a technical study that only considers if a new crossing would be required based on the technical assessment of the transport impact in the area.
Find out more about the Local Plan Review
The Local Plan Review will set out our vision for the future of the district's economy; plan for transport and housing needs; look at how we can improve the lives of children and young people; consider the area's environmental needs; support our health and wellbeing; and ensure that we continue to have a rich arts and cultural environment. The plan continues to be a top priority for the council and a huge amount of work is being done to progress this. You can keep up to date on all of this work by visiting: .
If you missed our last newsletter, you can find it at: latest news. In it, you can read about the Local Plan Review timetable, which outlines when different pieces of work will be completed and sets out key dates for when people can provide us with further feedback. All previous issues of the newsletter can be viewed at: Sign up to the Local Plan Review email newsletter.
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