Gillian recently held a joint meeting with Natural England’s Area Director, James Seymour and Susan Taylor, Cabinet Member for Planning at the District Council. The meeting focused on three key areas, the environmental welfare of the harbour, the impact of local sewerage infrastructure and that of future housing development in the area.
This meeting gave both Gillian and Susan the opportunity to ask Natural England about their recent report into the Harbour environment, which painted a poor picture, with most of the AONB SSSI area categorised as ‘unfavourable declining’. As a statutory planning consultee, Natural England is responsible for advising the Council as the planning authority about any impacts future development would have.
Gillian has been working to ensure that any developments in the area do not further damage our natural environment, whilst also supporting the council’s efforts to implement a new local plan, to protect the area from speculative development. This work has led to many meetings with a variety of statutory bodies, fellow MPs and Ministers.
Friday’s meeting was positive, the recently published report will now give the Council and Natural England a body of evidence to reference when considering future planning applications. Further, the information within the report will allow for greater pressure to be placed on Southern Water and Ofwat, the regulator, to take action. Natural England has agreed to work closely with Chichester District Council moving forward, on both interim planning applications and their development of a new local plan.
In light of the report, Gillian will be taking the findings forward to her next meeting with the Environment Agency and Ofwat, both of which have already been arranged.
After the meeting, Gillian said, “James and Susan are keen to build on the meeting to establish a collaborative working relationship, which will only strengthen the Council’s hand when dealing with planning applications and the development of a local plan. The report published paints a grim picture, however, it has provided us with the evidence and recommendations we need to make the changes necessary to improve the local outcomes. I will continue to work closely with everyone involved to ensure Chichester Harbour’s status is improved and any future development goes ahead in a sustainable way – an ambition I know is shared by the council leadership and the community.”
Susan Taylor, Cabinet Member for Planning said, “I am hugely grateful to Gillian for setting up the meeting with Natural England. As a statutory planning consultee, we need their advice and input to progress with our local plan to ensure it is created in a way that supports the natural environment. I am optimistic that this meeting will be the start of a more collaborative working relationship and enable the Council to make progress to develop our planning policy with the environment at its heart.”
James Seymour, Natural England’s Area Manager Sussex and Kent added, “I look forward to working together on realising our joint ambitions of a thriving Natural Environment which underpins the health, wealth and happiness of us all. Working together to developing local plans that embrace and enhance these natural assets that help nature recover.”