March issues – Winchester City Council responds

Winchester City Council responds to issues raised by the march on Saturday 29 November.

The Silver Hill scheme will ruin the city.

The Silver Hill scheme has planning permission and a compulsory purchase order in place. It brings a £150m investment to a run-down part of the city, with new jobs, new homes and new shops. It is vital to the local economy of Winchester. The design is by a leading firm of architects and incorporates new public squares, new views of the city’s landmarks and building materials that complement Winchester’s historic environment. If the updated and improved scheme does not go ahead the investment will be lost – at the very least for many years. Portsmouth has just lost a similar development opportunity due to changes in economic circumstances.

The Council must not be allowed to build a replacement leisure centre on green space at River Park.

There was never a plan to build on River Park. One early option – it was never a plan - considered the possibility of using a small part of one cricket pitch. The Council listened to the strongly-expressed views of residents living nearby and has made it clear that this option is no longer being considered. The ‘rec’ was never under threat but, for those who are convinced that it was, they can now be assured that the rec is safe. The important issues remain of if and where to provide improved replacement leisure facilities - and how they can be afforded.

The proposal to build extra-care housing for older people on the Chesil Street surface car park is inappropriate.

This type of housing is urgently needed to cater for Winchester’s ageing population. Chesil Street is the best location, close to the city centre and with alternative parking available close by. Views on architecture are subjective but significant changes have been made to the design in the light of comments received during the public consultation.

Plans for development at the Carfax/Railway Approach are another example of the way in which the Council is ruining the city.

There are opportunities for the City Council to work with Hampshire County Council and Network Rail to bring significant business investment into this area, delivering new jobs and greater sustainability for the local economy. This idea is in the early stages, with no plans on the table at all, so it is far too early for people to start criticising development. There will be full public consultation on any proposals.

The Barton Farm development is another example of how the Council gets it wrong.

The Barton Farm development is starting on site now so the priority is to make it work for Winchester. It is quite wrong to criticise the City Council in this instance – the Council’s decision on Barton Farm was overturned by the Government.

The Brooks Centre shows how the Council gets it wrong on development.

Views on architecture are subjective but it is not helpful to those businesses which are located at the Brooks Centre to continue to complain about a shopping centre that is now well-established. The Brooks Centre may be re-developed in the future, but this is unlikely if the Silver Hill scheme does not go ahead.

The Council needs to change direction on planning policy/show ‘vision’.

The City Council’s Local Plan sets a clear vision for sustainable economic growth. Appropriate development is vital for the future of Winchester. This is a growing city with 2,000 new homes being built and more planned. We need to provide jobs and a thriving city to meet people’s needs. We do not want to become a commuter town.

The Council is not listening/public consultation is inadequate.

The City Council’s Local Plan has been shaped by one of the most extensive public consultation exercises ever undertaken across the district.
Winchester’s Town Forum - councillors for the City wards - have published an imaginative ‘Vision for Winchester’, the result of extensive consultation with communities, businesses and organisations across the historic city. This vision fed into Local Plan Part 1.The ‘Blueprint’ process, which shaped our Local Plan, won a national award for the inventive way in which we engaged people in thinking about their future. Local parishes have commended the way the Council worked with them. There has been extensive consultation at every stage of our plan with workshops and meetings throughout the district and town wards. All proposals have been made available to the public - it has been completely transparent.

Thousands of people attended the march so the Council must listen to them.

The Council listens to everyone including the many tens of thousands who did not attend the march and the thousands who have contributed to the consultation on the Local Plan. Whether the number attending the march was in the hundreds or as many as a thousand, the City Council understands that they represented a wide range of different interest groups. The Council Leader has offered to meet representatives of the different groups to discuss their particular concerns.