Thursday 7 March 2019

Where will all the new homes in Chichester go?

Chichester has faced a target of delivering 435 new homes a year, which has been exceeded in the past three years; in 2015/16 553 were built, in 2016/17 440 were built and in 2017/18 648 were built. This isn’t enough for the powers that be however, as the local plan (due to be released in 2020) is likely to set out an annual target of building 550-650 new homes. So, where are all these new homes going to go?

It may surprise you to hear that only 8.8% of England is actually built on, with the majority (72.9%) being used as farmland, 3.8% being designated as ‘green urban’ (that’s parks, gardens and recreational space) and the other 14.5% remaining natural. So, all the houses, roads, shops, businesses, airports and other buildings take up less than 10% of the nation - which is quite amazing when you think about it.

Here in Chichester we’re less than half as densely urbanised than most of England, as we benefit from just 4% of the District being built upon. A further 2% of land is green urban, 69% farmland and, not surprisingly for an area that includes the South Downs, a higher-than-average 25% of our land remains natural.

I fear this abundancy of open space is why central government sees Chichester as an easy target to take on more housing. The higher end of the revised target (650 homes a year) would equate to more than 7,000 additional homes being built by 2030, which is a significant increase on the 50,000 or so existing properties in the Chichester District today.

So where are we going to build these new homes? It’s all well and good for central government to push for these schemes, but the knock-on effect is the strain upon local infrastructure i.e. the roads, public transport, schools, hospitals and other public services that need to be enhanced and added to.

The development at Whitehouse Farm is set to be the biggest in Chichester’s history, with 1,600 new homes planned. And farmland is also under threat in Shopwhyke, Westhampnett and Tangmere. But surely all these new residents will need to eat, so continuously building on farmland isn’t sustainable in the long-run. Unless housing is to be more densely built (think taller but smaller new-build units, with a lack of outdoor space) it seems the quarter of our District’s land that remains ‘natural’ could be under threat.

(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section on March 7, 2019)

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings

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