Central Winchester regeneration archaeology questions answered by Expert Panel during day of events

The eminent archaeologists behind the guidance for Central Winchester Regeneration’s (CWR) approach to archaeology were in Winchester to participate in a series of events to enable people to hear more about the Archaeology Panel’s report and recommendations.

The Archaeology Panel members met with an invited audience of people who had submitted specific comments on archaeology during the CWR consultation and then later met people who attended a public information evening.

The two sessions provided a mix of information from the expert panel, round table discussions about the key topics on archaeology in the area and an opportunity to put questions to the members of the expert panel and hear their answers.

Panel Member Dr Paul Bennett, commended Winchester City Council for organising the day. He said:

“It is highly unusual for an authority to be taking this [archaeology] so seriously, especially so far in advance, and doing it so publicly with the community.”

During both events, panel members gave a presentation that covered the planning policy, requirements for archaeology, information about what is already known about the history and potential archaeology in the area and a summary of their expectations and recommendations. Panel members also met with attendees in small groups to answer their questions and address any issues or concerns they had.

Council Leader, Cllr Caroline Horrill, who is also Chair of the CWR Committee said:

“We made a commitment to continue discussions on our approach to archaeology in the city centre. The Panel has a great wealth of knowledge – over 200 years between them - and these events gave everyone who has an interest in archaeology the opportunity to come and ask questions, learn more and understand the approach that has been recommended by the panel.

“There were some very useful conversations between the experts and the attendees.”

The Panel also met with members of the CWR Committee and had a private meeting with the Hampshire Cultural Trust to discuss their ambitions for a new immersive museum in the area.

The key points raised during the day were:

·         How the archaeological requirements would be enforced to ensure developers meet the expected standards

·         How archaeological work would be financed by the council and/or developers – both field work and the recording and                   preservation of structures and finds afterwards.

·         Ownership of any ‘finds’.

·         How any finds and information would be shared with the community.

·         How the local community could be involved.

·         How/where any finds will be displayed / provisions for a museum

·         The need to proceed with initial archaeological work to provide guidance for the development of the site.

Prof Martin Biddle, the Panel’s Chair, stressed the importance of Winchester’s archaeology. He said: “Winchester was the fifth largest walled city of Roman Britain and as a founding city of [late Saxon] Britain it is of fundamental importance for Winchester and our understanding of urbanisation.”

A broadsheet summary of what was discussed and an outline of the responses from the panel and the council will be produced in the new year. Anyone can sign up to receive a copy of the archaeology and other CWR updates by going to: www.winchester.gov.uk/cwrsignup