New Team of Heritage Advocates at work in the District
It goes without saying that Winchester is a district that is fiercely proud of its built and buried heritage. Following a series of staffing changes at Winchester City Council, a new team is now in place to lead the protection and promotion of the district’s historic environment.
The Council’s recently established historic environment service has brought together archaeology and conservation professionals under a new manager. Alison Davidson, who joined the Council just a few weeks ago, has already made her mark by delivering the completed Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Strategy for Sparsholt, in partnership with Sparsholt Parish Council. She has also contributed to the official listing of a K6 telephone box in Tichborne – one of the quintessentially British red telephone boxes - which was originally included in BT’s list of redundant boxes for removal, but which will now be retained in the heart of the village where it makes a valuable contribution towards the character of the area.
Alison has been appointed at a time when the City Council is preparing for the impact of the Heritage Protection Bill, due to make its way through Parliament during this session. The Bill will lead to a major shake up of the consent procedures affecting listed buildings, archaeology and conservation areas. Pre-empting the changes likely to arise in local authority practices following the approval of the Bill, Winchester City Council has already reorganised itself to provide a seamless service to protect its built environment, both underground and overground.
Now fully staffed since the arrival in post of a third conservation expert in the form of Helen Parvin last month, the team is working hard. Following the completion of the Sparsholt Conservation Area Appraisal, a programme is being agreed for the remaining 36 conservation areas to ensure that they all enjoy the additional protection afforded by such important local elements of planning policy. Appraisals aim to set out, in a combination of text, photographs and maps what it is that makes up the special character of the conservation area. The completed plans are then used as supporting evidence to policies within the local plan and emerging Local Development Framework, and are vitally important when dealing with planning applications and subsequent appeals in some of the district’s most sensitive areas. The next appraisal to emerge, towards the end of this year, will be Hambledon.
Alison Davidson, Historic Environment Manager, commented:
"Winchester is a very special district and I feel privileged to be here. I know that our newly refocused team can make a real difference, not only by working constructively and pragmatically with owners and consultants on their day to day planning applications but also by putting in place policies which will ensure that our district is well cared for over the years to come. I am keen to ensure that we are offering a modern, efficient and approachable service."
Winchester City Council’s champion for the historic environment is Cllr Patricia Stallard, Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport. She added:
"Winchester has always been fortunate to attract a high calibre of historic environment professionals, offering technically excellent advice. But as we enter a new era under Alison’s management I look forward to seeing the service play a more proactive role - going out into the district to explain, interpret and promote what is special about our heritage."
One of Alison’s early tasks will be to set up a Historic Environment Panel for the district. This would consist of a group of professionals and other informed stakeholders keen to work more closely with the Council on the formulation of historic environment policies and practices. She is keen to hear from anyone interested in being part of the panel and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 01962 848 481.