Sennicotts was built in 1810 one and half miles North West of the City of Chichester.
By 1960 the Parklands Estate had been built and Sennicotts found itself one mile to the North West of Chichester.
In 2019 Sennicotts would still be one mile to the North West of Chichester.
At the time of writing, and if Chichester District Council’s planning comes to pass, then in 2026 Sennicotts will be found in the City of Chichester.
Nobody has designed this seismic change to this ancient City. There is no master planner. Just nameless folk working in regular Council jobs facing threats and targets on a daily basis and consequently frenziedly stuffing every space being offered with new houses. Driven by a single motive – ‘fear’. Ironically it is the fear of loosing (planning) control which has meant the City has lost control of its ability to plan its future. Master Planning control has been taken away because of a fear of economic stagnation.
The current push for houses dates back to 2010. The Coalition Government were faced with the big question after the 2008 financial crisis, ‘how are you going rebuild our economy?’. The answer the then Chancellor gave was to “build homes”. The NPPF followed and it has taken a decade to get that programme fully into action with big cheques changing hands.
To make the ‘pill’ more palatable we were told house prices had got too high and we needed to increase the housing supply for the sake of the next generation. No-one appeared to question why voters would go for a supposed supply and demand fix to a problem which if it worked would see house prices fall. In so doing turning a blind eye to one of the main drivers of economic growth over previous years – spending power and confidence released as a direct result of home ownership equity growth.
Building houses to get the economy growing feels like a get-out-of-jail card for the current parliamentary term. Sure, it generates economic activity for now, but is it really sustainable in any sense of the word and what of the damage done to our places and spaces in the long term?