New plans to protect Sparsholt's special character

Residents of the lovely village of Sparsholt to the north of Winchester have been invited this week to a public meeting to discuss proposed new measures to protect and enhance its special character.  On Wednesday night, officers of Winchester City Council will present early drafts of a new plan designed to record the most interesting and historic features of the village and to safeguard them for the future.

As a designated Conservation Area, Sparsholt has been recognised in law as 'an area of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'.   To be effectively managed and protected, a Conservation Area requires a full character appraisal and management strategy, in line with guidance from English Heritage, the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment.  Winchester City Council's conservation service is currently working with external consultants and Sparsholt Parish Council to produce these documents. 

Cllr Patricia Stallard, the City Council's Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport and its newly appointed Historic Environment Champion, commented, "Those who own houses and businesses locally do much to contribute to the vibrancy of local community life and day to day care of the environment, but so too do planning policies, village design statements and other forms of community planning.  We welcome the involvement of local people to ensure that the appraisal and the management strategy are appropriate for the needs and aspirations of those who live and work in Sparsholt."

Principal Conservation Officer Richard MacCullagh added, "Sparsholt is an important historic downland village in a wooded setting with an interesting street pattern and a fine collection of historic buildings, including the grade II* St Stephen's Church.  The character appraisal will increase our understanding of the conservation area's special qualities and help guide our decision making when considering development proposals.  The management strategy is intended to be a useful tool to identify the best means of preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of the conservation area.  It is essential to get the views of the public and other interested parties at this stage. "

The appraisal documents, once refined through the consultation process which is now under way, will be formally adopted by the City Council in the new year.

The meeting on Wednesday night takes place at the Memorial Hall from 7pm to approximately 8.45pm.  It is free to attend and no advance booking is required.

Copies of the draft Sparsholt Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Strategy are available on the City Council's website by following the 'technical assessments' link from Conservation Webpages  Printed copies are available on request for a small charge from Development Services Reception at Avalon House, Chesil Street, Winchester where those who are unable to  attend the public meeting will also be able to see a display on the Sparsholt plans until the middle of December.

Comments on the Sparsholt Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan should be sent in writing before 15 December to Richard MacCullagh, Principal Conservation Officer, Winchester City Council, Avalon House, Chesil Street, Winchester S023 0HU.