THERE are just a few days left for residents to have their say on the future of development throughout the Chichester district.
A second public consultation on the area’s draft local plan, which will decide where housing and infrastructure is built for the next 15 years, closes on Monday (September 16) following a series of changes.
The main changes include:-
1. Redistributing the number of homes built across the 15-year period. Although the overall housing numbers will not change significantly, councillors want to spread development evenly over the 15 years in a bid to see housing supported by infrastructure.
2. Placing additional emphasis on protecting important habitats in the district, including Pagham Harbour. Although current policies already protect environmentally-sensitive areas, following feedback on the first draft the council has created a specific policy on areas of outstanding natural beauty.
3. Changes to strategic site boundaries. A number of changes have been made, including more landscaping and ‘protecting the natural assets of the site’. The council is hoping to bring interested parties together in each of the three key locations.
4. Agreeing the number of pitches required for gypsies and travellers over the period of the plan. Although the council has consulted on the needs of gypsies and travellers, it was waiting on further research to confirm the number of pitches needed locally. Work on this is expected to be completed this month.
Other changes include moving development away from the floodplains of the River Lavant and giving Stockbridge its own settlement boundary.
Councillors agreed to a second consultation back in July.
“We want to thank everyone who took part in our consultation on the local plan,” said council leader Heather Caird at the time. “We have taken time to consider the feedback received, and adapted the plan accordingly.
“We now want to give residents a further chance to provide their views on the main elements of policy that have changed.”
The local plan includes a target of more than 6,000 homes from 2012 until 2029, not including areas in the South Downs National Park. It also includes allocation for employment land.
Under the changes put forward in July, the annual housing target is 410 homes per year, spread across the whole of the local plan period, instead of the 358 homes per year, plus an initial 258-homes surplus, initially suggested.
Over the 15-year period now likely to be covered by the plan, this is a slight reduction in the overall number of homes – from 6,183 to 6,150.
This summer’s consultation means the timetable for adopting the completed local plan has also changed slightly.
In October, members of the cabinet and full council will debate the plan.
From November 8, 2013, to January 6, 2014, a final public consultation will run.
The plan will then be adapted to include public views, with the council hoping to submit the final plan to the secretary of state in late April, 2014.
Ever since the draft plan was unveiled earlier this year, it has caused debate among Observer readers, with many raising concerns about the loss of green space and impact on infrastructure.
However, officers have said the local plan is necessary to stop the council losing control over development, resulting in a planning-by-appeal process.
The current consultation closes at 9am on Monday.