Redevelopment of the Grange Site
Facebook: 22 September 2018
We would like to thank all who contributed to our posts on the redevelopment of the Grange site over the last few weeks, and for those who mounted their own campaigns. Kt Woodman, Carol Lintott and Gordon McAra deserve special mention. However, the decision stands. Chichester DC will proceed with the offer for a Care Home. We need to draw breath and consider our responses when the planning application is submitted.
Can we learn any lessons? Well, perhaps the first lesson is that we (the people and institutions of Midhurst) left it too late. In part, that is because CDC didn't keep us informed. Perhaps they were not obliged to. But when the Waitrose deal fell through some years ago, that is when we should have started taking an active role in proceedings; soliciting views on preferred use and asking questions about the marketing strategy etc. Instead we were content to let CDC do all the work.
The second lesson is that we can't force land-owners to do our bidding. If we have specific ideas for the site, we should have investigated ways in which we could lease or buy it from CDC. Too late now.
Finally, we can't force supermarket chains to bid for 'our' site. The retail sector is under pressure; new stores are developed as part of national strategies. But we could have set up petitions and lobbied the supermarket chains to show the strength of popular local support.
But while we wait for the planning application on this site, perhaps we should start looking at other sites in town. We (The Midhurst Society) will start separate posts seeking views on Dunford House, the NatWest site in Rumbolds Hill, and others as we identify them. Let's not wait until we are presented with 'done deals' before we react.
(623 people reached)
We never received a reply to our email to Tony Dignum (3 September) and so we were dependent on newspapers and social media for updates. It appeared that events were rapidly coming to a head, and on 17 September we emailed all CDC councillors involved.
The matter was discussed at a CDC meeting on 18 September when a petition against the Care Home was presented, with over 1,000 signatures. Nevertheless, CDC confirmed its decsion to accept the offer for the construction of a Care Home.
We set out below the text of our email of 17 September 2018.
I write to you on behalf of the many members and supporters of The Midhurst Society who have expressed their opposition to the construction of a Care Home on the site of the old Grange Centre in Midhurst. We ran several posts on our Facebook page which attracted several thousand viewers, not one of whom expressed the view that Midhurst needs another Care Home. No doubt you are aware that the SDNP Local Plan (Pre-submission document) does not identify a need for a Care Home on this site.
It has been reported that you are legally obliged to accept the highest offer, regardless of purpose. We should count ourselves lucky that the highest offer wasn't for the construction of a casino, or a brothel, or a nuclear waste facility. In fact, to adhere to this obligation is being disingenuous. A local authority does not have to accept the highest offer; it can take into account:
i) the promotion or improvement of economic well-being;
ii) the promotion or improvement of social well-being;
iii) the promotion or improvement of environmental wellbeing.
I suggest that your primary duty is to provide the services that your communities need, and to do so in a timely and efficient manner. The facilitation of unwanted services would amount to a dereliction of that duty.
I urge you to defer the final decision and to co-operate with Midhurst Town Council in assessing the needs of the community. We have already offered our assistance to MTC in that respect.
3 September 2018
email to Tony Dignum, CDC,
I am writing on behalf of The Midhurst Society to express our concern that Chichester DC is considering accepting an offer to build a Care Home on the derelict site adjacent to The Grange Centre in Midhurst. I would be grateful if you could read out these comments at the Cabinet Meeting on 4 September.
Recent activity on social media has indicated there is strong resistance to the idea of a care home on this site. There are several care homes in and around Midhurst, and there can be no justification for using this prime location for yet another. On our own Facebook page we have seen an incredible amount of support for the idea of a swimming pool: 2,500 views; 21 shares; 162 likes; 97 comments. There have been no adverse reactions. Looking at rising national levels of obesity a swimming pool would appear to be an excellent idea and one which would complement the existing facilities in The Grange Centre.
It is admirable that CDC is seeking to maximise the financial returns for the ultimate benefit of the taxpayer, but that should not involve providing something that is not wanted or needed. I would suggest that the remit of any local authority is to provide the best services affordable that provide the best overall benefit.
I understood that in the SDNP Local Plan the site had been identified as suitable for retail development. There is no mention of a care home. I appreciate that in the current economic climate there is little appetite from retailers to invest in new developments, but if the Local Plan is to be disregarded it is important that all options are considered.
I would like to ask the following questions:
- What statistical evidence is there to justify a care home
- What research has been conducted into examining alternative uses for the site if the Local Plan is to be ignored?
- In what way is CDC financially involved in this site?
- In what circumstances would CDC allow Midhurst to arrange redevelopment of this site?
- All decisions on the future of the site are deferred;
- The views of the people of Midhurst are sought on alternative uses, including but not restricted to a swimming pool;
- Midhurst Town Council and/or The Midhurst Society or similar organisation should put forward proposals based on the opinions expressed by the people;
- Any proposals put forward should include financing options to the extent that CDC are unable or unwilling to provide funding.
The Midhurst Society