The Tannery was one of Chichester's industries. It, together with the Brewery must have made Westgate a smelly street. There's a picture on the internet of the Tannery in 1928. It's set in fields and there are no houses to be seen. Interestingly to the south of the site is the long building the subject of the planning application. It's understood that this building was erected in about 1900.That office block is part of the estate owned by West Sussex County Council. It would seem that the
building has been modernised over the years. Until July 2015 it was in use by County architects and surveyors all of whom have been relocated to other WSCC premises.
On the front of the site there is a house (65a Westgate) which was used as offices by the Trading Standards Department. They moved out more than a year ago.
To the East of no 65 there is No 63 which is vacant but was formerly 4 residential units (63 a to d).
There is hard standing for about 50 cars. The car park is in use, presumably by WSCC workers who walk to their office locations. There is a grassed area and many mature trees which form a pleasant visual amenity in the street.
West of the site is Tannery Close, a development of houses and apartments carried out by Linden Homes in 2002 or thereabouts.
The office block has the benefit of a Permitted Development Consent CC/14/00506/P3JPA) obtained in 2014 for a change of use from offices to 12 x 2 bed and 3 x 1 bed flats. This consent expires on 31st May 2016.
Application 15/01590/FUL is with Chichester District Council and is described as pending. The application is for the erection of 11 dwellings, 5 in a terrace having a similar footprint to the office block, and three pairs of semidetached houses. It also covers the change of use of No 65 from offices to residential and the use of No 63a as a single dwelling house.
There are numerous documents associated with the application. Several of these relate to the trees on the site. These have been surveyed by the developer's agent and there is a detailed plan of those that are to be retained and those that are to be lost. Several of the trees are the subject of Tree Preservation Orders.
There is a very comprehensive traffic report prepared by consultants for West Sussex County Council. Generally, it finds no traffic objections to the proposed development. However, it should be noted that the report refers to current conditions and not those that might apply after the development of White House Farm. The report is worth reading in the context of WHF.
There is a substantive objection by Chichester District Council to the proposed change of use from offices to residential. The approved Local Plan (Para 6.9) seeks to safeguard the existing stock of employment sites and premises. This includes strong policy protection against the loss of existing land and premises to other uses where sites are well located and have a realistic prospect of re-use for employment purposes. The Economic Development Service of Chichester D C does not support the proposed development.
For the developer to overcome this strategic objection it will be necessary to show that there is no demand for such office space. According to the Local Plan this will normally mean that real efforts are made to market the site over a period of 2 years “or a reasonable period based on the current economic climate”.
The question of sewerage has also to be addressed and the mix of housing has been discussed. The WSCC has commissioned various expert reports on the state of the building and its value. It is claimed that the building needs refurbishment to provide 13,530 sq ft of modern offices at a cost of £1.5million. The estimated current value is said to be £900K or £1.25 million taking into account the benefit of the Permitted Development Consent. Therefore, it is claimed that an office scheme isnot viable. Agents, including Henry Adams, have been consulted and have reported that there is no great demand for office space in Chichester. Henry Adams have an advertising board attached to the building and one at the front of the site at the back of the footpath. They are also listing the property on their website suggesting that the building would be suitable as an headquarters office building.
SUGGESTED ACTION BY WGRA
Write to CDC to register our interest and to make the following points
• note that the application does not accord with the Local Plan
• if residential development is to be granted planning permission consider traffic implications especially in light of the WHF proposals
• ensure high standard of design and materials
• protect existing trees during development and retain thereafter, planting additional trees andsoft landscaping to preserve visual amenities of the site
• control working hours and access during construction period
Brian J. Bird, 11th December 2015
The Tannery and possible action will be discussed at the next committee meeting of the WGRA on Wednesday 5th January 2016. A copy of this report and the site map is on the website at: http://www.westgatera.org.uk/2015/12/13/the-tannery/
At the recent WRGA committee meeting a number of representatives were identified who had agreed to help with various tasks: