Chichester Local Plan consultation reminder
Chichester District Council is reminding people that the current round of public consultation on Chichester's Local Plan will close at 5pm on Friday 17 March.
This consultation is a very specific one, which invites people to comment on three specific questions — these ask whether the plan has met the legal requirements; if it has been positively prepared and is justified, effective and consistent with national policy; and if the council has engaged and worked effectively with neighbouring authorities and statutory bodies. People can view the plan and comment on our Local Plan Consultation portal.
After the consultation closes on 17 March — following a six-week period of consultation — all of the comments will be packaged alongside the plan, which will then be submitted to the Planning Inspector to consider as part of the independent examination on behalf of the Government.
The Local Plan identifies development areas for economic growth and locations for new homes in the Chichester plan area over the next 15 years. There is a separate plan for those areas located in the National Park and this is produced by the South Downs National Park Authority.
Cllr Susan Taylor, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning at Chichester District Council says: "Along with the evidence that we've gathered, the views that residents, organisations and community groups have shared with us through previous consultations have helped us shape the plan that we intend to submit to the Planning Inspector. Before we do this, people can view the plan through our Local Plan Consultation portal until 17 March.
"At this link, people can also suggest changes if they feel that the plan does not meet one of the three key questions or tests. To explain these tests and to provide more background information, we have created a Local Plan section on our website. This includes information about viewing and commenting on the local plan as well as a range of frequently asked questions about the plan.
"To help explain the challenges we have faced when preparing the plan and to outline the key points relating to the three key sections of the plan area — East/West corridor; North of the Plan area; and, the Manhood Peninsula — we have produced overview documents, which can be found in our local plan updates webpage
"If you wish to comment on the plan, you may be interested to know that we have created a video that provides some simple tips. It's worth mentioning that when you view the plan in our consultation portal, you will see speech bubbles on the left-hand side of the plan — these indicate where you can make a comment. Each policy has its own speech bubble, so you just need to find the policy you would like to comment on and click on its speech bubble icon. Placing your comment alongside the relevant policy of the plan will help the Planning Inspector to take your comments into account. For a more detailed 'step-by-step guide' to commenting, visit our viewing and commenting local plan webpage."
The current Local Plan was adopted in 2015, but the Government Inspector said that it needed to be reviewed again to make sure that sufficient housing was planned to meet the needs of the area. Since then, a great deal has happened. The number of houses the Government requires the council to build has changed numerous times and due to the issues faced, including roads, wastewater and water neutrality, extensive work and research has been required to test various options. This has involved significant background evidence, as well as consulting with partners and residents.
Susan adds: "Any council that submits their Local Plan to the Planning Inspector is required to show that they have tried and tested every possible way to reach the housing numbers set by Government. No stone can be left unturned. This means that the work that we have carried out to date has been vital in demonstrating the complex situation we are in.
"We have been very clear that we believe this work shows that the Local Plan is unlikely to be able to meet the full housing targets set by Government due to a lack of external funding for essential infrastructure improvements. Due to this, we've revised our housing numbers to what we believe is achievable, based on the evidence we have gathered. We've also considered all of the feedback we have received from previous consultations as part of this process.
"We've always said that the roads, wastewater and water neutrality are the biggest challenges facing the plan. The Local Plan has to demonstrate that we have investigated all options and solutions before the Government will consider a lower housing target and we believe that we have reached this point.
"We also welcome the Government's recent announcement to hand greater control back to councils and local communities over the number of houses built. We are a thriving and successful district and need new homes for social and economic reasons. However, we support the Government's view that the decision on how many houses we take should be based on local needs, the environment and local involvement. We're pleased to see that they are adjusting the emphasis from housing need being a mandatory target, to an advisory starting point, and that more allowances will be given for genuine constraints.
"We do not believe it would be of any benefit to our area to delay the Local Plan process any further. If we do, it will put us at risk of further speculative development, which is something that none of us want. By progressing with the plan, we will have far greater ability to defend ourselves from unplanned development.
"The Government has indicated that where a plan is at an advanced stage of preparation it can benefit from a number of changes proposed. These include allowing planning authorities two years to review and revise their plan against the Government's proposed changes if they wish to do so. In addition, to reduce the risk of speculative development they only need to demonstrate a four-year rolling housing land supply, rather than the current five years. The Government has indicated that those considered to be at 'an advanced stage of preparation' will be afforded much greater protection.
"We have been lobbying the Government for years now regarding the challenges that our area faces and so it is really positive that they have listened. We recognise that until these changes are implemented, we must continue to work with the current National Planning Policy Framework. We have responded to the detail of the consultation and look forward to seeing the final changes to the framework as soon as possible.
"The council agrees that it's important we move ahead with the Local Plan, especially as it is likely that we will have the option to review it under the new proposals if this would be of benefit."
People can view the plan and comment on soundness and legal compliance before 5pm on 17 March, via our Local plan consultation portal.
For more information about the plan, frequently asked questions, overview documents for the three key sections of the plan area, along with frequently asked questions, please visit our local plan webpages
Date of Release: 3 March 2023