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Minutes – Property Working Group – 10 January 2022

The agenda and papers for this meeting are available here: Property – Working Group – 10 January 2022 – agenda and papers

The minutes of this meeting are presented below.

You can also download a PDF copy of the minutes here: Minutes – Property Working Group – 10 January 2022



  • The Mayor (Councillor J Hughes), Councillors Scicluna (Chairman), Dignum, Plowman, Quail


  • The Deputy Mayor (Councillor Joy), Councillors Corfield, Gaskin, Sharp, Property Manager, Member Services Support Officer, a member of the Property Team, Greg Ockwell (Project Manager – Growth and OPE, West Sussex County Council)

The Chairman welcomed Greg Ockwell from West Sussex County Council.


No apologies were received.

Councillor Bell was absent from the meeting.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Property Working Group meeting held on Monday 8 November 2021, having been printed and circulated, be approved and signed by the Chairman at a later date.


a) Heating controls upgrade – update

The Property Manager advised the Working Group that the safety critical works that had previously been discussed and agreed had been completed at a cost of £5,418.00.

He also advised that the secondary heating zone, covering the Assembly Room, Crush Bar and rear office; had been modified to allow for the correct modulation of the heating flow temperature and to allow the system to be balanced against the outside temperature.

Members were informed that this meant the current system was running as efficiently as it could and should result in lower gas usage.

b) Boiler replacement

The Property Manager reported that, during a recent service, it was found that the gas valve and PCB on No.1 boiler had failed.

He further reported that, due to redundancy within the heating system, the Council House could continue to be adequately heated by boilers 2 and 3.

The Working Group was reminded that the expense of sourcing and replacing the parts for the current boilers meant that the Property Manager was now recommending that the existing boilers be replaced.

The Property Manager advised that, further to a recommendation from the City Council’s consultants (Save Money Cut Carbon) he had had a site meeting with a Technical Director from Worcester-Bosch who had supplied a detailed specification for the replacement boilers. This would be used as the basis of the tendering process that he hoped would be completed by the end of March 2022.

He also advised that the recommendation from the Technical Director was for two hydrogen ready 100KWh Worcester-Bosch condensing boilers which had a 98% efficiency rating compared to the current rating of approximately 70% for the existing units. Being hydrogen ready meant that these boilers would be ready to burn a hydrogen/natural gas mix if that were to happen in the future and would only need minor modification to burn pure hydrogen in the event the gas grid moved over to that type of supply.

Members were reminded that the indicative cost of the boiler replacement would be £16,000 to £19,000 and that an allowance had been included in the budget for 2022-2023 to allow for this to proceed.

In response to a question from Councillor Plowman regarding cost savings from the more efficient boilers, the Property Manager advised that, while the amount of gas being used would go down; it was very difficult to predict cost savings given the very high gas prices currently being experienced. He further advised that lower gas use also meant lower emissions.

The Deputy Mayor expressed the opinion that alternative sources of powering the building’s heating should be reviewed.

The Property Manager responded that, as advised at a previous meeting, alternatives such as ground source heat pumps or electric heating had been looked at but they were either unsuited to the existing heating system (heat pumps) or very expensive to run (electric) and that the alternatives would require significant works to be undertaken on the Council House itself.

After a short further discussion, the Deputy Mayor and the Property Manager agreed to arrange a meeting promptly to discuss the issue.

It was then RESOLVED, subject to the outcomes of any discussions between the Deputy Mayor and the Property Manager; that the boiler replacement project proceed in the new 2022-23 financial year.

c) Council Chamber – investigation into signs of recent structural movement

The Property Manager reminded Members that there were concerns that the south-west corner of the Council Chamber appeared to be suffering from structural movement.

They were further reminded that a structural engineer had submitted an assessment confirming that this was the likely cause.
The Working Group was advised that the City Council’s insurers had accepted the liability and that, after the £1000 policy excess, all further costs would be borne by the insurance company.

The Property Manager informed Members that the exploratory works, including digging trial holes, would commence during the week beginning 1st February 2022 and that all neighbouring residents would be advised what was happening and why to try to prevent any misunderstanding (see also Property Working Group minutes, 8 November 2021, minute 30c).

The Chairman expressed her surprise that, given the age of the building it had, apparently suddenly, started to subside.
The Property Manager reminded the Working Group that there had previously been a monitoring scheme for suspected subsidence but that had not found any necessity for further works.

He also informed Members that not all the cracks and decorative deterioration in the Council Chamber could be attributed to the suspected subsidence.

Members were advised that issues with the heating in the room and the resulting wide temperature variances were more likely to blame for cracks appearing in other areas of the Chamber.

In response to a question from Councillor Plowman, the Property Manager advised that any underpinning would probably be using well established concrete block methods coupled with expansion material.

The Deputy Town Clerk asked whether the underpinning would cause any more movement and potential decorative damage.

The Property Manager informed the Working Group that the underpinning should not cause any further movement. He also advised Members that there would have to be a discussion with the insurance company about what decorative repairs could be included as part of the claim.

d) Damp in Town Clerk’s office

The Property Manager reminded Members that damp had been identified in the Town Clerk’s office and that listed building consent had been applied for to allow the remedial works to proceed.

He informed the Working Group that, further to his report, the Historic Building Officer at Chichester District Council had advised him that there was a requirement for the work to be assessed by a historic building surveyor, from an approved list, prior to any consent being given.

The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that the funds for the historic building surveyor would be available from the Council House Reserve and that the new 2022-23 City Council budget made an allowance to put aside £30,000 per annum in to that Reserve to allow works such as this to go ahead.


a) Update

The Mayor and Councillors Plowman and Quail declared an interest as City Council allotment tenants.
The Property Manager advised that there were currently 410 tenanted allotments with no vacant plots available.

He further advised that, while the allotment system showed 289 people on the waiting list, this included people who had given up to three allotment site preferences and that the actual figure was 148.

Members were informed that the Property Maintenance Team had brought 28 disused and derelict plots back in to use over the past 12-18 months, including those previously thought to be unusable due to contamination (see also Property Working Group minutes, 8 November 2021, Minute 31).

Members were advised that this represented an area of 3,275 square metres of land with an annual rent of £1,310 which would have an ongoing positive effect on the rental income being received.

The Working Group and the Property Manager thanked the Property Team for their efforts in improving the standard and productivity of the City Council’s allotment sites.

b) Councillor Gaskin’s report

Councillor Gaskin introduced her report which had been circulated with the agenda.

She informed Members that the report had resulted from contacts and comments she had received from City Council allotment holders and that its aim was to review the current City Council allotment rules and regulations and to make suggestions for possible revisions.

Councillor Gaskin further informed Members that she felt that some plot holders, who were cultivating their allotments, thought that they were being treated the same as those who neglected their plots and used them for fly tipping which, they felt, was unfair.

Councillor Gaskin then asked that one of the Property Manager’s responses to the report be removed, namely that Officers felt that she was being used to undermine the work of the Property Team. She expressed the opinion that this was not the intent of the report and that it was a response, as part of her role as a City Councillor, to legitimate concerns of allotment tenants.

Those present at the meeting agreed that, in general, the vast majority of allotment holders were looking after their plots well and it was a small minority that were the cause of most problems.

Members also agreed that there was no need for a sub-committee, as suggested by Councillor Gaskin.

The Property Manager advised Members that the current rules and regulations had originally been developed by a sub-committee which had been chaired by a City Council allotment holder and former Councillor. He further advised that advice had also been received from a representative from the National Allotment Association.

Councillor Plowman suggested that the difficulties of the lockdowns and pandemic conditions had both emphasised the importance of the allotments as well as potentially creating more friction between individuals.

He also expressed the opinion that climate change was causing the established allotment cultivation routines to change dramatically and that this had been exacerbated by very wet conditions and issues such as crop blight.

Members agreed that this would have an effect on the allotment tenants and that a lighter touch might have been more appropriate when managing the allotments.

The Property Manager responded to Councillor Gaskin’s comments about aligning the allotment rules with the City Council’s climate emergency declaration. He advised Members that allotments were green areas by their very nature which meant that wild areas could not be allowed as these also raised complaints from plot holders.

Members were also reminded that the City Council maintained hedgerows at the allotment sites and that 150 fruit trees had recently been planted at the Florence Road location.

In response to one of Councillor Gaskin’s comments, the Property Manager explained that the zero tolerance policy referred explicitly to zero tolerance towards aggressive or abusive behaviour aimed at Council Officers and other allotment holders and not to issues regarding the condition of allotments which were handled on an individual basis and as sensitively as possible.

Councillor Gaskin expressed her agreement with the principle of the policy but suggested that the word “punished” was too strong and that it could usefully be changed to “dealt with”.

It was agreed by those present that it was important that all involved were treated with respect.

After a short further discussion it was agreed that the Property Manager and Councillor Gaskin would arrange a separate meeting to discuss the issues raised and try to resolve those concerns. It was also agreed that the outcome of this discussion would be reported to the next meeting of the Property Working Group.


a) Swanfield Drive

The Property Manager reported that this project was still on hold pending agreement between Chichester District Council and A2 Dominion.

The Mayor expressed his frustration that, after several years, this issue had still not been resolved.

b) Bognor Road

The Property Manager advised Members that, following the replacement of the bench at the bus stop on Bognor Road (near the junction with York Close and Royal Close), a request had been received to install a bus shelter at the stop.

The Working Group was informed that Councillor Sharp had recently run a survey for residents in the vicinity of the stop and that this survey had confirmed support for the provision of a bus shelter at this stop. The results of the online survey had been circulated with the agenda and the Property Manager further advised that more written responses had been received that morning with four in favour and one against.

The Property Manager stated that the anticipated cost of the new shelter would be £8,000 to £10,000 and that he had begun investigating the availability of S106 funding from the nearby St Bartholomew’s development.

In response to a question about planning consent, the Property Manager advised that this would not be required for the installation of the bus shelter but that a licence would need to be obtained from West Sussex County Council before work could proceed. He further advised that he would be viewing the site with the West Sussex County Council Highways Manager the following week with a view to applying for the licence.

After a short further discussion, it was AGREED TO RECOMMEND to the Finance Working Group that the Bognor Road bus shelter installation go ahead subject to the availability of S106 funding.


a) Precinct paving

The Property Manager advised Members that the Planning and Conservation Working Group had recently agreed to form a sub-committee to push forward with involvement with the precinct paving project. He expressed the opinion that, this being case, it would not be appropriate to continue to discuss this matter at the Property Working Group meetings in the future.

The Property Manager summarised the information given in his report that had been distributed with the agenda. He then introduced Greg Ockwell from West Sussex County Council Growth Team who would be leading on the precinct project going forward.

Mr Ockwell advised that the most recent discussion with the West Sussex County Council Highways Teams had been to look at the likely costs of using a bound surface to replace the precinct paving in North and East Streets.

The Property Manager expressed the opinion that any solution would need to be affordable and that heritage paving would be too expensive while cheaper black tarmac would be undesirable. He reiterated Mr Ockwell’s point that the solution currently being looked at was a bound gravel surface and he explained the difference between the older and current methods for achieving this with the newer premix method providing a more robust surface.

Members were informed that painted tarmac, similar to the surfaces found outside schools, was being looked at as a potential solution. They were also informed that this differed from coloured tarmac which was more expensive and could only be ordered in large minimum quantities which would make small repairs in the future difficult.

Members agreed that any proposed solution should be aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the city centre.

Councillor Plowman updated the Working Group on the Planning and Conservation Working Group’s decision to form and sub-group to work on the paving issues. He reminded Members that there was currently a paving petition in circulation and that there were daily reports of injuries and other problems experienced by visitors to Chichester which was putting people off coming in to the city centre. He felt it was important that the new sub-group focused on the paving issues and pushed hard to get things moving forward. He also expressed the hope that the Mayor would chair the group to help with this.

b) West Street project

The Property Manager summarised the information provided in his report.

He advised Members that West Sussex County Council had requested a contribution towards the cost of a feasibility study to look at options for the development of the public realm area in West Street and immediately adjacent to the cathedral.

He further advised that, after the contributions from other partners, this would be in the amount of £3,590.70.

Mr Ockwell, West Sussex County Council, then summarised his presentation that had been provided to Members with the agenda.

He informed Members that the study had arisen from the Chichester Vision document and the review of how the city centre spaces are used for different social and economic activities as well as how residents and visitors interacted with those spaces. It was also hoped that the project would breathe new life in to the area and help resolve the issues with the currently empty properties.

Mr Ockwell reported that the consultants being used for the study, WSP, had wide experience in similar projects and had recently completed a similar project in Westminster.

He advised that West Sussex County Council would be the lead partner and it was hoped that the study would be completed by the end of the 2021-22 financial year. He also explained that it was important to get the project moving forward and that the study would form the basis for an application for capital funding for the agreed way forward.

Members were informed that the study was looking at three different overall options:

A grand scheme with all traffic movement stopped

Reimagined space and a piazza style layout with reduced bus/access traffic movements

Reimagined space, piazza style layout with same level of movements (currently 30 buses an hour plus access for deliveries) but perhaps managed. E.g. traffic lights for buses/one way ANPR cameras or other approaches can be explored.

The Deputy Mayor advised that, in his experience, large companies such as WSP would not assign relatively small projects to their top tier designers and that he was worried that the options would not necessarily be as creative as a result.

Mr Ockwell informed the Working Group that the designer assigned to Chichester had also worked on the Westminster scheme and that he had previously lived in Chichester after his move to the UK.

Councillor Quail asked about the current status and possible future role of the former Oliver Whitby school (House of Fraser) site in the plans.

She also asked about funding sources for the project implementation and whether, if the former House of Fraser site was developed, would there be a possibility of S106 money being available.

Mr Ockwell confirmed that, while there was currently no capital funding in place for the project, the proposed feasibility study would identify what kinds of funding would be required and where that might come from, including S106 from the former House of Fraser site.

He informed Members that one of the benefits of the partnership working was that some partners could apply for funding streams not available to the other partners. An example of this could be the Cathedral applying for lottery heritage funding.

The Chairman expressed concerns about the report that had been sent to Councillors and whether the writers of the report had visited Chichester given issues with the factual correctness of some of the aspects of the report.

She also advised Members that, previously, the cathedral had suggested levelling out the causeway/pavement along West Street which had not been generally well supported.

In response to a question from the Chairman, Mr Ockwell informed Members that the causeway in question was in the ownership of the Cathedral but was subject to a long term lease to the County Council.

He further clarified that the land ownership in that area was approximately equally split between the Cathedral and West Sussex County Council but it was also important to consider any archaeological context of the ground in question.

Mr Ockwell informed Members that current high street trends were towards more over all experience as opposed to pure retail and it was important that his was borne in mind for this project.

Councillor Sharp asked whether there was any joined up working between the West Street project and the Chichester Neighbourhood Plan.

Mr Ockwell welcomed the suggestion and reiterated that it was felt that partnership working was vital to allow this kind of interaction.

Councillor Sharp also asked whether the project would involve the Chichester Tree Wardens given the diverse opinions about the current trees in West Street and their impact on the views of the cathedral.

Mr Ockwell advised that part of the project would be to resolve what to do with the trees, all of which carried tree preservation orders, given their importance to the wider environment.

Councillor Gaskin, supported by the Chairman, asked about the green credentials of the consultants being used and their commitment to considering this aspect in the over all design.

The Deputy Mayor asked about the timeline for the West Street design and particularly how this connected to the proposed precinct paving project with the potential for a “patchwork” being created if the projects did not align. He also emphasised the importance of ensuring the Market Cross was treated sympathetically within the solution.

Mr Ockwell reiterated that the feasibility study was due to be completed by April and also assured Members that any solution would be sympathetic to the heritage of the area.

Councillor Plowman agreed with the Deputy Mayor and suggested that Mr Ockwell and Councillor Dignum, in his role as District Council Cabinet Member for Growth and Regeneration; be invited to the next Planning and Conservation Working Group meeting on THURSDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2022 to brief the City Council on the wider approach being adopted for West Street and other areas within the city.

In response to Councillor Quail’s question, Councillor Dignum advised Members that he had no progress to report on the former House of Fraser site but that any proposals for West Street would have to consider retaining vehicle access to the site in the event it was redeveloped for residential purposes.

He further advised that this could have implications for traffic movements along Chapel Street and Tower Street as well as a stretch of West Street alongside the cathedral.

Councillor Quail asked whether the timelines of the proposed meetings would enable any viable discussions to take place prior to the completion of the study.

Mr Ockwell advised Members that, as the parameters for the study had been broadly defined in the brief in the form of the three options; other parameters could be fed in to the discussions as appropriate, including palette, transport access and other streetscape considerations.

He also welcomed the opportunity to join up the various conversations to add to the Growth and Vision discussions that had been ongoing.

Members agreed that much more discussion would be required and Councillor Plowman, as Chairman of the Planning and Conservation Working Group, agreed that the next meeting would focus largely on this topic.

The Chairman drew the discussion to a close and asked Members to confirm their support for the City Council’s share of the funding for the study.

The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that funding should be available from the City Council’s Public Realm budget.

After a short further discussion, it was AGREED TO RECOMMEND to the Finance Committee that the City Council contribute to the West Street feasibility study in the amount of £3,590.70, to be funded from the Public Ream budget.

The Chairman and Property Manager thanked Mr Ockwell for attending the meeting and his input in to the discussions.

c) Lidl to Story Road link

The Chairman reminded Members about the background for this item and the importance of making the path safe for its users.
The Property Manager confirmed that there was an ongoing debate about the ownership of the land and reminded Members that, as a public right of way it fell within West Sussex County Council’s remit.

He also reminded Members that the extent of the City Council’s involvement was proposed to be the laying of type 1 MOT (Ministry of Transport approved aggregate) to provide a free draining and more level and stable surface for pedestrians.

Members were advised that the City Council could proceed with the work under its General Power of Competence and that the cost for the work would include the aggregate as well as roller hire to compress the gravel in to a firm surface.

The Chairman and the Mayor agreed that the work should go ahead but that the City Council should not become liable for the long term maintenance of the path.

Members also agreed that work should continue to establish the ownership of the land so that long term responsibility could be established.

The Deputy Town Clerk expressed concerns about the long term maintenance of the path as well as any public liability for problems experienced by the path’s users.

The Property Manager explained that the City Council, after making best effort to improve the path, would not be held responsible because the actions had been taken for the right reasons.

After a short further discussion, it was RESOLVED that the Property Team proceed with the work as specified by the Property Manager.


The Chairman expressed her thanks to the residents who had been maintaining the garden.

Members were advised that the landlord of the garden had agreed in principle to assigning the garden to the City Council.

They were also advised that Marstons, the current tenants of the neighbouring pub, had also agreed.

The Property Manager informed Members that the City Council had agreed in principle to pay any reasonable legal costs incurred by the landlord and that he was currently awaiting a response from the landlord about the next steps.

The Chairman welcomed the developments as outlined and also the continued improvements that could be made to the garden with the City Council’s support.


The Chairman informed the Working Group that she had reservations about the proposal to install floodlighting on the MUGA at Florence Road.

Councillor Sharp expressed her understanding of the Chairman’s concerns and advised Members that she had undertaken leafleting of the local residences as well as gathering opinions via a survey and publicising the project.

She informed Members that opinion was divided on this proposal. Those in favour felt that night time safety and the ability to play sports/games later in to the day/evening would be positive outcomes while those against raised concerns about light infiltration in their homes causing sleep problems, although she felt there were ways to mitigate this issue. She also reported that the result of the survey was in favour of the lights but that the margin was narrow.

The Chairman advised Members that she had received comments from personal acquaintances who lived in the area and who had told her they were against the project.

Councillor Sharp informed the Working Group that residents in Hay Road, where similar lights had already been installed, were positive about them due to the increased safety when walking in the dark.

Councillor Gaskin raised concerns about dark skies considerations and the light pollution that such a lighting system would create and the effects it would have on wildlife, including insects, birds and bats.

Councillor Plowman informed Members that he had previously had discussions about a similar project at Chichester Rugby Club and that he felt a discussion with them would be useful due to the amount of work they had undertaken when planning the lighting.

He also asked Members to consider whether, in the current economic situation, the installation and running costs were an appropriate use of funds.

Councillor Quail agreed with the dark skies concerns and asked about the viability of the project being implemented in stages.

The Property Manager advised Members that the Hay Road lighting used a combination of timers and PIR sensors to try to ensure that interference for residents from lighting was kept to a minimum with the lights only coming on when the MUGA was in use or if pedestrians crossed the area concerned.

Members were then advised that the request for the lighting at Florence Road had been made by Chichester District Council, the owners of the MUGA and that the City Council was being asked to investigate due to a lack of funds for the project at the District Council.

The Property Manager also referred Members to the City Council’s climate emergency declaration and expressed the opinion that adding to light pollution and using additional electricity may not be in keeping with this.

The Chairman asked about cost estimates and expressed concerns about spending City Council funds for a project on another authority’s land.

The Deputy Town Clerk, responding to a question from the Chairman, confirmed that no cost estimates had been received to date.

After a short further discussion, it was AGREED that the District Council be contacted about the availability of funding to assist with the lighting installation. It was also AGREED that the Property Manager would put together an outline costing based on the lights and associated infrastructure that had been installed at Hay Road.

The Mayor left the meeting.


Members were advised that the board had now been constructed and delivered to the sign writer for painting and signwriting with the Clerks’ names.

The Property Manager informed the Working Group that he hoped that this work would be completed by late January or early February.

Councillor Plowman reminded Members that he had offered to pay for the board itself as his gift to the City Council as outgoing Mayor and requested that an invoice be sent to him for that amount.


The Chairman advised Members that the organisers of the Culture Spark season had asked for free or discounted use of the Assembly Rooms for three evenings as part of the District Wide Culture Spark season. She further advised that this was not something that the City Council would normally agree to.

Councillor Plowman asked for more information about the events that were being planned for the three evenings.

The Property Manager advised that he had received a short briefing note from Culture Spark and read out the information that had been supplied (attached to these minutes).

The information included reference to the anniversaries of the Festival Theatre, the Canal Trust, the Novium Museum and the New Park International Film Festival.

The Chairman expressed the opinion that the organisations being mentioned could contribute to the cost of hiring the Assembly Room for the events.

Councillor Quail supported the Chairman’s view and informed the Working Group she felt that the named organisations would be better placed to celebrate their anniversaries themselves.

The Deputy Town Clerk suggested that the organisations could apply for Discretionary Grants to help cover the costs of using the Assembly Room.

The Member Services Support Officer advised the Working Group that it was his understanding that the room hires being requested would form the City Council’s contribution to the Culture Spark festivities and that the other organisations mentioned, with the addition of Chichester College, were making their facilities available for the season as part of the Chichester hub.

Councillor Sharp informed Members that she had met the Culture Spark organisers and was generally supportive of the initiative and the request.

She also informed the Working Group that she felt that the organisers of Culture Spark should be asked to provide much more detailed information about their proposals for the use of the Assembly Room.

Councillor Quail agreed with Councillor Sharp’s suggestion that more information be sought from Culture Spark so a more informed decision could be made.

Councillor Plowman reminded Members that the City Council would be heavily involved with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the time of the Culture Spark season. He also advised Members that in earlier discussions about Culture Spark at the District Council, he had been informed that no budget had been set aside and that the organisations involved would be contributing.

The Deputy Town Clerk’s suggested, and Members agreed, that the organisations involved could apply for Discretionary Grant funding to help with the costs of their events.

The Chairman reported that the Festival of Chichester, which she helps organise, had lost some of its sponsors to the Culture Spark although they had agreed not to take the Festival’s headline sponsors.

After a short further discussion, it was agreed that the Culture Spark organisers be asked for further information and that they be advised to apply for Discretionary Grants to support the project costs of the season of events on the understanding that there was no guarantee a Grant would be awarded.

Post meeting note: The Member Services Support Officer circulated details to Members of the Minutes of the Community Affairs Working Group Meetings where presentations had been given about the Culture Spark season.


  • Formation of a Picture Hanging Working Group to review positioning of pictures in the Council House including display of the recently donated Murray pictures.


To be confirmed

The meeting closed at 11.56am

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