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Chichester District Update December 2020

18th December 2020

CPRE Sussex activities in Chichester District

Your District Representatives are Rodney Chambers, former CPRE Sussex Chairman and now Vice President, who is linked into the City of Chichester and wider planning issues and Dr Jill Sutcliffe, your new representative. Jill has lived for 25 years on the Manhood Peninsula and was a co-founder of the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) in 1997. She now lives in the far north east of the District in Wisborough Green, one of a sub-group of parishes including Kirdford, Plaistow and Loxwood. The Parish is one third within the South Downs National Park and Jill wears many hats!

We applaud Andrew Griffith our MP for Arundel and the Downs for his prominent role in challenging the “mutant algorithm” proposed in the Government’s major changes to the planning system but are concerned by his notable lack of response to the Planning White Paper.

Chichester Local Plan:

The Chichester Local Plan 2015 specifying 435 homes per year has expired this year. It has been replaced by an interim plan which sets out 628 homes per year. However, taking into account Government plans, this could increase to 995. The challenge to find land for expansion is huge as the District is constrained by the National Park, the sea and the Chichester Harbour Conservation Area. This places pressure further East on the Manhood Peninsula and in the far North of the District in Kirdford and Fittleworth for example. Unfortunately, without an up-to-date Local Plan in place, the Chichester District is vulnerable to planning by appeal.

There are five sites under development outside Chichester but quality is, in our view, questionable and affordability remains an issue for Chichester’s workforce.

We are keeping watch on a new threat north of Chichester in Lavant Parish. Known as the Daffodil Fields, a planning application was refused ten years ago and then refused at appeal on the basis of loss of the strategic gap between Chichester and Lavant and it also lay under the Goodwood Airport flightpath. Proposals are back for this site and we will vigorously object once again.

Planning applications:

1. We objected to the construction of a grain store at Hundredstreddle Lane on the grounds of environmental and landscape policy issues. We supported local residents who were hugely concerned with the danger of the corner for traffic on the main road as large vehicles turn out of the lane. Residents submitted a film showing this hazard to Councillors. Councillors refused the application but the applicant has submitted an appeal.

2. We submitted an objection to an application to demolish an C18th Copse cottage and replace with a much larger and prominent house within the South Downs National Park. This would have major landscape impacts and, in our view, was contrary to the National Park’s policies. The proposal has been withdrawn.

3. The MWHG objected to Easton Farm developments: permission was granted ten years ago but the conditions placed have not been met. Activities have evolved into more of an industrial site than the original permission warranted. There are considerable concerns regarding potential contamination of the nearby habitat replacement Medmerry site – established to replace habitat lost on the Solent. Consequently, further conditions and limitations were put in place at the planning meeting.

4. We are keeping watch at Loxwood where extraction of clay from Pallinghurst Woods and building of a recycling business is being considered. No application has been made to West Sussex County Council but a pre application scoping report was drawn up. The actual proposed site is not ancient woodland but there is ancient woodland in the area and there are key species such as Nightingales and Great Crested Newts present.

5. There are a host of planning applications on the Manhood Perninsula, and more in the pipeline, in lieu of Chichester not having an up-to-date Local Plan. There are, however, new local opposition groups – Save Our South Coast Alliance (SOSCA) and MANPEG – fighting these and joining together across the coast. MWHG objects where there are implications for wildlife.

Good News on the Manhood Peninsula

The Manhood Peninsula Partnership (MPP) and MWHG applied to the Nature Recovery Network (NRN) initiative for the Manhood Peninsula and received a positive response. The issue was discussed at the MPP meeting on 30 November and was supported by a majority of those present including reps from RSPB at Pagham and Medmerry, and from Chichester Harbour Conservancy

An NRN Press Release states that it will help us deal with three of the biggest challenges we face: biodiversity loss, climate change and wellbeing. Establishing the NRN will:

• enhance sites designated for nature conservation and other wildlife-rich places – newly created and restored wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping stones will help wildlife populations to grow and move;
• improve the landscape’s resilience to climate change, providing natural solutions to reduce carbon and manage flood risk, and sustaining vital ecosystems such as improved soil, clean water and clean air; and,
• reinforce the natural and cultural diversity of our landscapes and protect our historic natural environment.

More Good News … trees

Chichester District Council has awarded funds to MWHG to establish a locally sourced native tree nursery and West Witterings Parish Council has made some land available for this at its allotments.

Some trees are arriving from the Conservation Volunteers in mid-January so watch out for volunteering opportunities!

Jill Sutcliffe & Rodney Chambers, Chichester District and the National Park