Local Development Framework considers future of Winchester Town

The future of Winchester Town is the subject of the latest Local Development Framework Report. The Report considers how the district can meet its housing requirements over the next twenty years, and how to ensure that we retain and diversify jobs, allowing local people to live and work in Winchester. Four sites have been examined in detail to find the most sustainable solution. Councillors will be asked to consider this approach at the LDF Cabinet meeting on 28 January.

The Report concludes that to create a balance of employment and housing, parts of two sites on the edge of the town, being the area previously occupied by the army on Bushfield Camp, and part of Barton Farm, should be allocated for development. These options will form part of a district wide set of Preferred Options for a revised planning framework for the district, which will be subject to public consultation in May/June 2009.

Land to the south of Well House Lane on Barton Farm is proposed as the most sustainable option to accommodate 2000 of the homes that the City Council is required to find sites for by the South East Plan. The report concludes that land to the north of Well House Lane should not be developed.

Government Inspectors have twice accepted Barton Farm is a suitable site for development, and have only refused permission because its new homes were not required to address housing need at that time. Now the Council’s targets have changed, we are required by law to show where new housing can be accommodated. The Government requires the district to plan for new development; if the City Council fails to allocate development space then we risk losing control over where development can happen. A free-for-all for developers would see numerous less suitable areas coming forward, without infrastructure, and without the planning policies to control them. 

2000 homes on one site would bring forward required infrastructure such as community facilities, affordable housing, local shopping, provision for pre-school and primary education, and recreation and play space. Whilst development would bring many challenges, it also offers the chance to ensure Winchester remains a viable community offering homes for a range of people.

To ensure that Winchester’s economy is diverse, dynamic and sustainable long term, the Report also recommends that a previously occupied piece of land at Bushfield Camp be the preferred site for a purpose built Knowledge / Science Park to support the creative and knowledge based industries. The feasibility of such a site will be explored as part of planned consultation on the Council’s Core Strategy.

Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council said “We have listened to residents through our various consultations and the petitions we have received, and we are aware that development on these sites is not popular. However, allocating space for development over the next 20 years is not optional; the Government require us to make a decision. We have asked officers to look carefully into all the possible options that were put before the public last year and their findings show that land to the South of Well House Lane on Barton Farm is not only the most sustainable place for housing development, but also the site that will allow us to get the crucial infrastructure needed to make it successful.”

“I am coming to the conclusion, with a heavy heart, that out of the limited options available, Barton Farm is the least damaging to Winchester and its environment. Therefore the LDF Cabinet Committee will be considering a proposal to put this option before the Council on 22 April as a proposition for public consultation.”