So, it was on the news today that house prices in Chichester are twenty times the average local income, making it the least affordable place in the south east. I already knew it was more expensive than Brighton, no matter what locals may have tried to tell me in the past. This means that, even if I wanted to buy a place in the city I was born in, I couldn’t.
What’s wrong with this picture? You see, Chichester is also the top of the list of cities in this area with second homes. Pricing locals out and meaning the local economy suffers (which has been evident to locals for years as shops close and old world places are killed off – take a look at the Butter Market now – ugh… And it used to be one of the sweetest things about the place), Chichester is in danger of losing its soul.
It’s always been a nice place to walk around in. Little lanes, gardens, decent pubs – something else which have suffered numerous casualties in recent years – sitting on the green outside the cathedral (where my friends and I would sit for lunch when we were at college)… Thankfully there’s still a traditional bookshop in South Street (the one in Southgate is long gone, however), though when I go to the library to work, more often than not there’s nowhere for me to sit, so I gave up long ago, which is a shame.
The irony of it is that one of the best things about Chichester is its theatre, and it’s also one of the things that brings in the moneyed people, because it has a reputation for being high-brow (Laz will understand why I find this so cringe-worthy), with famous actors often playing there as well as some decent folk bands (Capercaillie have played there in the past, for instance). The staff at the theatre, well some of them anyway, have a lah-di-dah attitude of their own, to which I can personally attest, but I don’t let that stop me from going to events there when I want to. I just don’t let it bother me, because in spite of not being moneyed, I am local, and that means a lot to me. I’m not going to turn my back on the place I was born, even if its house prices make it turn its back on me.