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Local residents encouraged to have their say on Local Plan


Local residents in the Chichester District, who live outside of the South Downs National Park, are being encouraged to have their say on the draft Local Plan.

Chichester District Council's Local Plan will shape how the district develops (except those areas that fall within the South Downs National Park) over the next 15 years. The South Downs National Park Authority will create its own Local Plan for the rest of the district that falls within its boundaries.

The council has created the draft plan based on research and feedback gathered over the past few years. It is now encouraging local residents to get involved and put forward their views between Friday 22 March and Friday 3 May 2013.

"The Local Plan is one of the most important documents for our district as it describes how our communities will appear over the next 15 years (except those in the South Downs National Park)," says Cllr Heather Caird, Leader of Chichester District Council.

"People often think that the Local Plan is just about housing - but it's not. It's about protecting the character and beauty of the district; providing job and housing opportunities so that our children can continue to live and work locally; supporting and helping to boost the local economy; and making sure that we have adequate services, travel options and community facilities.

"This is our chance to work together to make sure that our district has a bright future, with a strong economy, and a thriving working age population. There is not the option to stand still. Without the Local Plan we will have development thrust upon us, and we won't be able to manage its size, or its location. With a plan we can manage where and how this happens. Without a plan we will also not be able to access vital funds to support facilities for our communities."

"We welcome the views of local residents and would like to encourage them to get involved in this process. We realise that people may have different views, but we will weigh everything up before presenting a plan that takes account of all of the issues."

The Local Plan will bring many benefits to the district. One is that it will secure affordable housing to help local people to stay local. Martina Jeffs and her family were able to move into a new affordable home built especially for local residents. Martina grew up in West Wittering, but never thought she would be able to live there.

"I'm over the moon with our house. I never thought I'd be able to stay in the village as the house prices are so high here. Being able to move into an affordable house has meant that I can stay in the village I grew up in and my daughter can grow up here too.

"The community has been extended with these new homes and it will benefit the area. Affordable homes help to bring some people back to the area that may have been forced to move away because of the lack of affordable housing. It means that the next generation are going to the local school."

The Local Plan also supports community facilities. The New Park Community and Arts Association Centre in Chichester is one of a number of community facilities that has benefitted from developers' contributions. Rod Fennell, trustee and project co-ordinator at the New Park Centre in Chichester, says: "We received funding from developers' contributions as part of the overall funding package to upgrade our centre. As an independent charity, major capital fund-raising is always a challenge. This extra funding has allowed us to lever in more money and in doing so to replace an outdated single-storey structure with a purpose-built facility, much earlier than might otherwise have been the case. The community are winners as a result."

The plan will also support local businesses and create job opportunities. John Hall, from the West Sussex Growers' Association, recognises how important it is in helping local businesses expand.

"The horticultural industry already employs around 5,000 people in the local area and brings £500m into the local economy. It supplies supermarkets across the country with high quality, local produce that people can trust. The Local Plan will help us to prepare for the future and consider how we can build on our current success, which will benefit both the local economy and local people." 

Work has also already taken place to help to deal with some aspects of the area's local infrastructure. Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council have recently bid to the Government for funding to bring forward an improvement scheme for the A27. Chichester District Council has also been working hard to address issues around the local waste water facilities which have troubled parts of the district. It is expected that a bid will be submitted by Southern Water to Ofwat (the Water Services Regulation Authority), for investment in improved facilities in the way that waste water is dealt with locally.

Local people can get involved by visiting , placing their comments on , emailing or calling 01243 534571. Officers from the council will also be attending a series of events across the district, where you can find out more and ask questions. A full list of these, and further information about the Local Plan, can be found at