Agenda item

Public Question Time

In accordance with Chichester District Council’s scheme for public question time and with reference to standing order 6 in part 4 A and section 5.6 in Part 5 of the Chichester District Council Constitution, the Cabinet will receive any questions which have been submitted by members of the public in writing by 12:00 on the previous working day. The total time allocated for public question time is 15 minutes subject to the chairman’s discretion to extend that period.






Questions had been submitted by two members of the public.


The questions (with the date of submission shown within [ ] at the end of the text) and the answers given by Mrs S Taylor (Cabinet for Planning Services) and Mr A Dignum (Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Growth and Place) were as follows.


In (1) below, in view of the number of questions to be asked, it was agreed that for ease of convenience each question and response would be paired. In these minutes, however, the responses appear collectively after the questions.  


(1) Questions by Mr M Dicker


In accordance with public question time at next week’s Cabinet meeting I would like to get answers to the following questions:


1. Why has Chichester District Council (CDC) agreed to accommodate the 205 houses from the SDNP unmet housing need when pressure for space is already acknowledged and it has no legal obligation to do so?


2.  If CDC is not prepared to hand back this unmet need then where is the need from in terms of which communities within the SDNP (by settlement area)? This is essential to know.


3.   CDC states: “The Local Plan Review will assist the creation of new jobs in a variety of ways, most obviously through the allocation of land for employment uses, …by supporting local services in rural areas … enhancing visitor facilities, supporting expansion of education and training, building new dwellings and facilitating improvements to transport and telecommunications.” 


Can CDC explain how the large element of economically inactive population from the SDNP will benefit from “land for employment uses” when it is not within easy reach of public transport for them? Having acknowledged this omission can CDC confirm that a better solution would be to identify employment space around Goodwood or to the north of the city to meet this unmet need and enable rural communities to become more economically active?


4.  There is deep concern about the provision of infrastructure (including transport) at the moment.  Why then does the Local Plan Review Preferred Approach – out for consultation - state and I quote:


“For this reason an independent viability study will be carried out to inform this strategy and the IDP”?


5. The Local Plan Review Preferred Approach states:


“The landscape of the coastline is characterised by its relatively flat topography which, on occasion, serves to provide views from the water across to the South Downs National Park.” 


Why then is CDC proposing employment space and housing at Al6/AP6 and a link road which will directly impact not only the views from the water of the Cathedral but perhaps the only view of the Cathedral from the water framed by long-distance views of the South Downs?


6.  Why has CDC including its contractors Peter Brett Associates not worked closely with Highways England in accordance with "The strategic road network, planning for the future A guide to working with Highways England on planning matters" in the development of the transport study as part of the evidence for the Local Plan Review? I hope that that will be reflected in the forthcoming reply to my freedom of information request.


7. The Local Plan Review Preferred Approach states:


“The impacts of development (including landscape, flooding and transport) in this location [AL6], along with the commercial attractiveness of the site, will need to be tested further as this Local Plan Review is prepared. However, based on an initial assessment of the area so far, it is considered that there is potential to deliver significant development in this area which addresses the constraints of the site and its wider environment.”


Can CDC please confirm:


a. Why has it gone to consultation with an untested strategic site proposal?


b. What plans has it got to re-consult on this specific site which is the only untested site in the Plan?


c. What contingency site is available should this site prove to be unviable?


d. What impact will this site have on the water treatment site for both flooding and effluent from the developments or proposed developments?’ 


[Thursday 3 January 2019]


Responses by Mrs S Taylor


1.     The Local Plan Review includes provision for 41 dwellings per annum to help accommodate unmet housing needs from the part of the National Park within Chichester District. One of the legal tests the Local Plan Review needs to pass at examination is the Duty to Cooperate. The National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to work together to meet identified housing needs under the Duty to Cooperate.  You are welcome to make a formal representation on the Local Plan Review should you consider that CDC should adopt a different approach.


2.     CDC has to follow the methodology set out by government to calculate objectively assessed housing need. This assessment of need is determined at District level and is not broken down to the level of individual settlements, for areas within or outside the National Park. The South Downs National Park Authority prepared its draft Local Plan before the government methodology came into force and commissioned its own evidence base on housing need.  Similarly, this does not include analysis at settlement level.


3.     The economically inactive population will not be likely to benefit from land for employment uses as this mainly consists of children and retired people.  Should you consider that there are better locations for employment development than are currently identified in the Local Plan Review which would meet the needs of the economically active population of the South Downs National Park, or elsewhere, in terms of accessibility by public transport, then you are welcome to make formal representations on the Local Plan Review: Preferred Approach.


4.     The Whole Plan Viability Study cannot be effectively carried out until there is a draft plan.  Given the need to progress the Local Plan Review in a timely manner, this is being carried out now, following agreement of the draft plan by the Council and in parallel with the consultation.  Any policy implications will be dealt with in the next iteration of the Local Plan Review which, it is anticipated, will be subject to consultation later this year.


5.     CDC’s evidence-based studies to support the Local Plan Review have not at this stage all been finally concluded and, for example, the conclusions of the landscape study and further on-going work in relation to the allocated sites in the Plan will help inform their suitability for development. You are welcome to make formal representations to consultation on the Local Plan Review should you consider that there are better sites for housing and employment development and an alternative solution for mitigation of the transport impacts of development that do not involve the link road.


6.     Peter Brett Associates (PBA) through regular liaison with Highways England has followed the procedures set out in the document entitled The strategic road network, Planning for the future: A guide to working with Highways England on planning matters, by involving Highways England in all aspects of its work and allowing it to comment at all stages, from first inception and through to the completed document. Therefore, PBA believes that it has clearly followed the advice in the document and worked closely with Highways England and its appointed consultant at all stages of the project.  CDC has engaged and will continue to engage with Highways England on the proposed improvements to the strategic road network that form part of the Local Plan Review.


7.     a. Consultation, including gaining the views of statutory and other consultees, is part of testing the strategic site proposal and it is expected that further evidence will be provided by the land owner prior to the submission of the Local Plan Review for examination.


b. The whole of the Local Plan Review will be the subject of a further round of consultation before the plan is submitted for formal examination.


c. The Local Plan Review: Preferred Approach does not include any contingency or reserve site.  However, if you believe that it should you are welcome to make formal representations to the current consultation.


d. It is not expected that there will be any impact on the Apuldram Wastewater Treatment Works in terms of flooding. Southern Water as a statutory undertaker needs to provide sufficient capacity to treat wastewater from the development, either through an upgrade to those works or transferring to an alternative works.  If you have concerns about these issues you are welcome to raise them through formal representations to the current consultation.’


Mr Dicker expressed his gratitude for the informative answers which he had been given.


Mrs D Shepherd (Chief Executive) referred to the first question and response and pointed out that when the Council on 20 November 2018 approved the Chichester Local Plan Review 2035 Preferred Approach – Consultation December 2018 it had not made any decision on whether CDC should provide the 41 dwellings per annum to help accommodate the unmet housing need within the South Downs National Park (SDNP). 


Mr Dicker remarked that his second question asked where within the SDNP’s settlements the unmet housing need existed if CDC was not prepared to accommodate it. 


Mr Dignum said that Mr Dicker had received answers to all his questions and no decision had yet been made on the SDNP unmet need of 41 houses in Chichester District.


(2) Question by Mr P Robinson – Chairman of the Friends of Priory Park


‘As Chairman of the Friends of Priory Park I would like to ask the following question:


I note that at its meeting on June 2018 the Cabinet agreed to an expenditure of £17,000 for the restoration of the eponymous Coade Stone in Priory Park*. An officer from Chichester District Council (CDC) failed to attend a meeting with Mr Tomason, a recognised authority in the restoration of coade, in the autumn. It seemed that there had been a discourtesy and that CDC was dragging its feet on restoration work of the statue which required a specialist skill to restore rather than repair. Has CDC sent an apology to Mr Tomason and when is it envisaged that restoration work will begin on the statue, a significant artefact in the history of the city?’


[*Note Although not part of the immediately foregoing question, Mr Robinson appended as a point of interest the following historical background, which demonstrated in his view that ‘there was certainly a vibrancy in the city at the end of the end of the eighteenth century.’


‘The statue is almost certainly the work of John Bacon (1740 – 1799) the chief designer and manager of the Coade Artificial Stone Company from 1771. Eleanor Coade, born in Lyme Regis, was the elder daughter of Eleanor and George Coade. In 1769, following her father’s second bankruptcy, Eleanor and her mother went into business with Daniel Pincot, a manufacturer of artificial stone in Lambeth. Significant to the restoration, the artificial stone included, glass, clay, silicates and quartz and restoration needs to understand this composition.


For me, an importance of the statue is its celebration of the intellectual life of the city. The City Corporation had initially bought the statue to adorn the civic water supply in South Street and sold it to Dr Guy in 1800. Dr William Guy, a pupil of John Hunter, the founder of scientific surgery, practised in Chichester. He was a close friend of the poet William Hayley, who lived at Eartham House, and the sculptor John Flaxman, responsible for several monuments within the Cathedral. John Marsh, the diarist, who moved to Chichester in 1787 would have known of Guy, Hayley and Flaxman.


When William Guy died in 1825 the statue was entombed with him in his mausoleum, under the north-west tower of the Cathedral. It was his grandson, William Augustus Guy, also a medical doctor and FRS, who presented the statue to Priory Park in 1873.’]


[Friday 4 January 2019]


Response by Mr A Dignum


‘The Coade Stone’s importance was recognised, hence the decision to approve funds for its restoration. Officers have not been able to locate the diary appointment for the meeting that was scheduled with Mr Tomason. If a CDC officer was expected at the meeting you to which you refer and did not attend then officers would like to extend their apologies to the attendees of the meeting, including Mr Tomason.


The resolution made by the Cabinet in June 2018 agreed an overall budget of £57,000 for the approved works in Priory Park. The project team is exploring the opportunity to work with local conservation specialists on the Coade Stone’s repair alongside the alternative specialist restoration approach. As yet there is not a set date for the repair works to be carried out but once this is programmed officers will share that information with all stakeholders and I hope that this will progress as soon as possible.’


The immediately foregoing response concluded public question time.