Experts work together to care for Winchester’s Heritage

Winchester City Council has launched a new ‘think tank’ for the District to support the care and enhancement of its historic environment.

A recent meeting of experts in the field has led to the creation of a historic environment forum for Winchester, which includes leading architects, master builders, and historic building specialists from across the District.  The forum will work with the City Council to develop new policies, provide guidance on emerging issues and latest practice in the field, and to share responses to national developments and Government guidelines.

The Winchester District has one of the richest and most diverse historic environments in the country. It boasts a cathedral city, more than 3,000 listed buildings, 37 conservation areas, 110 scheduled monuments, 11 historic parks and gardens, and a historic battlefield.  It is also a dynamic and modern place, where striking new buildings and features can be accommodated against this ancient backdrop. The Council has a legal duty to protect and enhance its historic environment. It also seeks to celebrate, share and interpret this legacy of wonderful buildings and fascinating archaeology with the people who live in the District and the millions who visit each year.  The new forum will support the Council in fulfilling these roles.

The meeting, which took place at Abbey House – the Mayor’s official residence in the Broadway, which is another of the District’s historic ‘gems’ - was packed.  Members of the new forum were keen to work more closely with the Council on challenging issues such as climate change, and the need to inspire young people to take up traditional building skills and crafts.  They are also supporting Council officers as they draw up a set of standards for the historic environment service.

Professor Robert Adam of Robert Adam Architects in Winchester who attended the inaugural meeting said: “This is a significant step forward in fostering a greater understanding between the Council and its constituents. It can only result in benefits to the historic environment and improved efficiency

Cllr Patricia Stallard, the City Council’s Historic Environment Champion, added: “Our historic environment service is already well regarded by the professionals with whom we work.  We strive for a principled but practical approach to conservation issues. The creation of this forum will ensure that new policies and difficult issues are discussed at an early stage, combining our skills to protect the wonderful street scenes, charismatic buildings and intriguing archaeology which make the District so distinctive.”