The Chichester Observer recently covered a story about Chichester District Council considering the sale of land at Mill Road to Westbourne Community Trust. We would like to take this opportunity to address some comment we have received in relation to this article. Chichester District Council will meet on 8 January to consider this matter but if they agree to the principle of selling the land at the rear of 30 to 56 Mill Road to the Trust, the land will not change hands until planning proposals have been developed in full consultation with the Westbourne community and then only when a planning permission has been granted.

Here are some key points about Westbourne Community Trust and why it has been formed to improve the quality of life in Westbourne and provide much needed affordable housing and other community projects.

What is Westbourne Community Trust?

  • It was formed in November 2018 by a group of local residents who want to do something about the lack of affordable housing in Westbourne.
  • As well as providing local homes for local people the Trust wants to deliver a range of community projects that benefit the whole community and improve quality of life in Westbourne.
  • It is a voluntary, not for profit community organisation and anyone in the village can get involved, become a member or join the board of trustees.

Why do we want to provide affordable homes?

  • The Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan and a recent Housing Needs Survey by Chichester District Council show that there is a serious lack of affordable houses available within the village.
  • Until the Trust was formed, there were no proposals to do anything about it.
  • Young people and young families who grew up here are increasingly forced to leave the village to find a home they can afford because of market prices and a lack of affordable houses.
  • No other organisation is doing anything about this. Private sector housing is out of reach for many people and there are no sites coming forward to deliver affordable housing solutions.
  • Westbourne would be failing its young people by not taking action and the village will not thrive without being a balanced community providing homes for the next generation, our children and grandchildren.

Why is the Trust considering land at the rear of 30 to 56 Mill Road?

  • This site was identified by the Parish Council when they were preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. It was in fact the 4th most popular choice out of 18 options in terms of residents’ views. It was withdrawn from consideration only because another site at Long Copse Lane for market housing was approved on appeal (now constructed) which made up the total number of houses required at that time.
  • The Trust is looking at a range of possible sites, but Mill Road is a strong contender which is why we have been discussing it with Chichester District Council and the Parish Council.

What does the Trust propose for the Mill Road site?

  • We want to develop only a small portion of the park area to provide 10 to 12 affordable homes.
  • The larger part of the site will remain as a much valued open space with new play equipment and a car park.
  • We have not commissioned any design work at this point until we know the outcome of the decision by Chichester District Council on the potential purchase of the site.
  • We want to improve the park and invest a significant sum of money in replacing and upgrading the existing play equipment which is out dated and in need of attention. As a charitable Trust we anticipate being able to attract funds to cover the cost of this.
  • We already have the support of the Primary School whose children will work with us on designing the new play equipment and we will provide a new lockable gate for the school to gain access to the park from the school grounds.
  • We would like to support the Allotment Association by providing them a new storage shed and WC on their site as part of our scheme and have invited the association to discuss this with us..

What we do not intend to do

  • We have no intention of redeveloping the whole of the park or the allotments, we value them as much as any residents in our community.
  • We will not sell on any of our houses they will remain in the Trust’s ownership for local people on an affordable basis.
  • We do not intend to make a profit from our housing scheme, any surplus income from rents or any other source will be reinvested in community projects.

What we need from the Community

  • We need community support please contact us and let us know your views.
  • We need your involvement, please join as a volunteer and become a member of the trust or join the Board of Trustees and play an active role in the future of the Village.
  • Please come along to the open sessions we plan to hold on 8 and 9 February 2019 at the Meeting Place on North Street where you can have a chat with us over a coffee and find out more about our ideas and the current progress with the Mill Road site.