Planning Application turned down once again!

We are naturally disappointed that Planning Officers under their delegated powers decided to refuse our planning application for six (6) starter homes and a small office on the site of Casson’s Restaurant in Tangmere. It is worth pointing out that this is a brownfield site next to a cycle track and within 200 metres of a bus-stop. Which satisfies some of the environmental issues that Chichester is trying to promote

Given all the well-publicised issues that we face, living as we do on this narrow strip of land between the South Downs and the coast. We felt that this application gave an opportunity for the council to demonstrate whether there was any willingness to think outside of the rigid frameworks that they seem to work to. Sadly this was not the case.

We will remain in conversation with council officers and will look at our options which may include taking this application to appeal. This has to be a last resort as it will inevitably mean more work for a council that we are constantly being told is under increasing pressure for funds. 

As we go forward there has to be openness, honesty and compromise if we are not to avoid a disaster in the Chichester area. We are seeing now through various comments made by elected representatives and lobby groups that there are major concerns as to what we are doing to the area. Whether this is building on unsuitable land, environmental issues, infrastructure and many more. These three principles have to underpin everything we do, whoever you are in the process whether a lobby group, elected representatives, council officials or anyone that lives in the area and has an interest in the environment we live in.

Given those principles I am concerned with the action of council officials in this planning application. Part of the application was to demolish the existing building. During our previous withdrawn planning application the building was inspected by a member of the councils Heritage and Conservation department. Whether or not that officer had confidence or not in their findings they requested that Historic England conduct a study of the building. These investigations were to ascertain whether the building could be designated as what is termed a ‘Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA).

It is worth noting that Historic England publish a number of guidelines on whether a building could be classed as a NDHA. The guidance of Historic England is also mentioned several times in the Chichester Historic Environment and Strategy Plan as providing the framework to which the council will work. So it can be assumed that Historic England are the final arbiters of historic buildings in England

Following the study by Historic England they advised the council that they would not consider the building for listing as a NDHA.

In a letter received from Gillian Shepard the Chief Executive of Chichester District Council on 2nd August 2018 stated:

I note that subsequent to the withdrawal of the application Historic England has provided their assessment of the building which may inform any future assessment by the council, with regards to its value as a non-designated heritage asset.

It can be assumed from this response that the council were aware of this report from Historic England but in this latest planning application, chose to ignore it. 

We need to have confidence in our council officials that they will adhere to the three principles I have outlined above of openness, honesty and compromise.

On a more strategic level we see increasing numbers of eating places in Chichester and more planned to come. We are probably at capacity and given the cost of housing in the area there is certainly an issue with people being able to afford to go out and eat, especially at the higher end of the market that Casson’s operates at. But we see permissions granted without seemingly looking at the wider issues.

Land is a resource that is not increasing, if we are to believe the predictions there will be less land in the future as coastal erosion increases as a result of global warning. We have to get our minds around more innovative solutions to these issues, whether that be building higher or in this case making use of a site that with some compromise could have provided six homes.

One has to ponder whether the pronouncements of our elected local officials on our housing issues are being actioned by council officers.

It is pleasing to see that in the recent budget that we have seen the government is going to issue a ‘White Paper’ on the whole planning process identifying issues such as the utilisation of ‘brownfield’ sites and many more reforms. This will undoubtably be actioned as we have to do something to break the current planning system that is plainly not fit for purpose. It is probably too much to hope that given all the publicity around the rewriting of the Chichester Strategic Housing Plan that Chichester might take a lead and be ahead of this new game.

The bottom line is that by this decision six families have been denied a chance of getting on the housing ladder.