While in no way wanting to comment directly on the current debate concerning the King Edward VII Hospital planning application, I was prompted by the open letter, published in the Observer last week, sent in by councils and communities directly and indirectly affected by the planning applications, to give consideration to some longer-term issues and implications raised in their correspondence.
These relate to:
1 The potential benefit or otherwise of adjoining communities to mutually support each other on issues of sustainability. It was notable that councils within and adjoining the SDNP were signatories, including Haslemere Town and Waverley Borough Councils.
2 The implications of ‘the land to be benefited does not have to be in close proximity to the land which is the subject of the application’ and ‘to create development on a “distant site” outside the national park, within the “district”, or in a more distant one’, could be read as a presumption that benefit can be enjoyed in one location, the SDNP, to the potential detriment of another, such as communities located on or close to the SDNP border.
3 That the SDNP only deals with planning matters and does not deliver any other public services, these still being the responsibility of the district and county councils.
All residential and non-domestic rates in Chichester District Council are set by CDC and WSCC who remain responsible for deliver pubic services.
Consequentially, it could be argued that those who will bear the disturbance, disruption and pressures of development in the CDC area to deliver its long-term sustainability, namely the CDC coastal, city and NE areas, will contribute on an equal basis to those living in the park, who will not.
4 That the combined areas covered by the Park in Chichester district and that of its areas of outstanding natural beauty total over 73 per cent of the total area of Chichester district. This therefore leaves 27 per cent of the land area in CDC without protected planning status, a sobering thought as next month all residents in CDC area consult on the housing numbers and locations in the district.
5 That the location and characteristics of the SDNP within the south of England and its close proximity of London and coast will potentially lead to greater pressure on the density of development on edges of national parks than as seen historically, for instance, adjoining the New Forest National Park.
Is now the time for residents to give thought to how funds are raised and managed to deliver the required infrastructure for our areas to be sustainable in the future?
Should this involve adjoining communities supporting each other by those sustaining harm receiving direct support from those enjoying most direct benefit?
These issues, in my view, will determine the quality and sustainability of all the communities in our district in the future.
Localism may focus on helping ourselves locally but for it to work in a wider context, we will also need to think about our neighbours.
Any guidance or informative comment on the above would be welcomed.
Chichester District Councillor
Kirdford & Wisborough Green