Chichester District Council has laid out its strategy for supporting local businesses and encouraging investment in the area over the next five years.
At a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday (November 5), members approved the updating of the council’s Economic Development Strategy for 2020-25 as well as the adoption of an Inward Investment and Growth Strategy.
While the former includes work to support the district’s high streets and home-grown businesses as well as encouraging investment in the area, the latter will work to market the district to businesses and support the economic use and development of commercial land.
With economic uncertainties over Brexit still looming large – and Chichester identified in the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer document as one of the areas most likely to feel the impact – it was stressed that the strategies needed to be flexible to cope with whatever may come.
After the meeting, Martyn Bell, cabinet member for growth, place and regeneration, said: “We are incredibly lucky that our district is a place in which businesses can really thrive.
“However, it is increasingly important in today’s challenging economic climate that we continue to support our local businesses as much as we possibly can.
“This is a key council priority, and our refreshed Economic Development Strategy and new Inward Investment and Growth Strategy will help us deliver this.”
While it was agreed that both reports were ‘aspirational and high level’, there was some concern that issues such as Brexit were outside the council’s control.
Cabinet members saw that as no reason to hold back on the strategy.
Roy Briscoe (Con, Westbourne) said: “It is aspirational but unless we drive it, it just won’t happen. I’m very pleased to see we have got a strategy to move things forward. The detail will come later.”
Norma Graves (Con, Fernhurst) added: “I think it’s very important that we have these strategies because without them we wouldn’t know where we were going.
“All the people already in our district and all the people who may be considering coming will be very much impressed that the council is really behind all the shopkeepers and behind the viability of Chichester city.
“We have so many uncertainties but if we do nothing we’re not going to get anywhere.”
Action plans for both strategies are expected to be ready in January.