Local Development Framework – The emerging trends

A progress report outlining the emerging trends from the Local Development Framework ‘Issues and Options’ consultation has now been published.

More than 3,000 residents and stakeholders contributed to the process through questionnaires and workshops, and there has been initial analysis of the thousands of comments and opinions voiced.

The information gleaned from this exercise will feed into the district’s planning framework for the next 20 years and will help identify where some of the required 12,000 homes should be located.

Stressing that these were still initial findings and there was much more detailed analysis to be done, Leader of the Council Cllr George Beckett made a number of observations:

Winchester Town: “At first glance it appears that there is overall support for an economic step-change in Winchester town and a reluctant acceptance of the need for some greenfield development.

“On the other hand more than 700 responses rejected both suggested options for Winchester town, instead favouring only the development of all available brownfield sites – an approach that would inevitably involve high density dwellings, back garden development, and a predominance of flats.

“Where people did express a preference for major growth the location North of Winchester (including Barton Farm) was strongly supported, followed by the area to the South of Winchester (including Bushfield Camp).”

South of the District: “Within Wickham, Bishops Waltham and Knowle there was extremely strong opposition to the option of large-scale development (1,000 dwellings) at any of these locations, so I hope that in these areas it will be possible to limit growth to a level consistent with the role of the key market towns.

“Many of the responses we received were in favour of the development of Whiteley, recognising that this could help to resolve some of infrastructure problems that the village currently faces.

“With regard to Alresford the majority of respondents favoured the option of some growth, in order to maintain its function as a hub and to help it become more sustainable.”

Overall: “It comes as no surprise that the clear priority for many people in the process is infrastructure, including the need for timely provision of new schools, medical facilities, roads and shops where there is development. We must bear in mind the relative ease of providing infrastructure when dealing with larger developments compared with small scale developments covering many sites.

South East Plan: “A ministerial announcement about housing numbers for the South East is expected any day, and if the figure demanded by the Government is significantly higher it may cast a different light on some of our findings.”

The housing numbers required of the Winchester district by 2026 through the South East Plan currently sits at 12,240.

Current Housing Market: “I can understand why some people will question the need for additional housing given the current market downturn but we are planning for the next 20 years, and it is important that we plan for all possibilities in the longer term so that we are in control of the district’s future.”

Further Notes:
Public opinion forms an important element in the LDF decision process but all potential sites for development will also have to meet the requirements of technical advice and the sustainability appraisal. This covers important factors such as flood plains and the road network.

Further analysis of the consultation data is still required and a ‘Preferred Options’ paper will be produced in the autumn when all the research and analysis is complete.

The City Council took a very participative approach to this consultation - above and beyond its statutory duties – in order to consider the needs, issues and aspirations of communities and to help them make difficult choices.

Seven workshops were organised across the district with more than 1,000 attendees overall, that aimed to inform the community about the process and give people a better understanding.

The official consultation ran from January 3 2008 to February 15 2008 though the documents were available to comment on from mid December 2007.