Station Approach FAQs
A number of questions were posed to the Council during the consultation process. This page responds to these queries in order to clarify the Council’s position on Station Approach and remove some of the misconceptions surrounding potential development.
There has been no consultation
There is plenty of empty office-space in Winchester
The Council is just looking to fill its coffers
Local people want affordable homes, green space and public art not offices
Winchester does not need this kind of development; it is an historic city not a business hub
This is going to be Silver Hill all over again
The architecture will be inappropriate and ruin the area
The Council wants to reduce car parking/parking must be moved underground
The Registry Office and the Conservative Club must be saved
Any development will add to traffic chaos in the area
There has been extensive consultation on the proposals. Summaries of responses are on the City Council’s website. As is often the case, consultation shows that there are different and contrary views on the way forward for Station Approach. City councillors take all these views into account before determining the best way forward for Winchester – which is their role.
Winchester has a thriving commercial property market; however this is composed mainly of small office spaces. The average size of a commercial office currently available to rent in Winchester is 214 sq. m; according to the European Industry Standards this would fit a business with only 15 employees.
A report commissioned by Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council in 2013 reported that Winchester has 270 commercial units under 100 sq. m, but only ten over 1001 sq. m. A survey of businesses in the area suggested that 71% find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to find suitable workspace in Winchester, with 49% concerned about the state of existing workspace and expressing a need to find bigger premises within the next 1-2 years.
This means that whilst Winchester is an excellent place for businesses to start up, we do not currently have the facilities for them to stay in this city if they want to expand. Businesses are leaving, and Winchester is losing out on the benefits they bring to our economy and community. The excellent transport links mean that the Station Approach area is particularly attractive to employers; by developing this area we want to provide modern and accessible office space that will enable successful businesses to stay in Winchester.
The Council is not a profit-making organisation. It provides essential public services against a background of reducing Government grant. It is sensible planning for the Council to look at ways of raising funds through public assets that boost the local economy, help to safeguard services and keep down the council tax.
Some local people have expressed this view. Proposals for Station Approach will include an element of housing and improvements to the public areas, but because of its proximity to the railway station, public transport, other offices and the City Centre, the Station Approach area is eminently suitable for office development. There are extensive green spaces nearby in the City at River Park while many older offices are being converted into housing. Significant new private and affordable housing developments are also being made throughout the City.
Developing Station Approach will transform an area with the potential to b improved into an attractive and welcoming gateway to the city for residents, visitors and commuters alike. This kind of development is needed to ensure Winchester maintains a sustainable and diverse economy that is not simply reliant on tourism.
Winchester has a high proportion of graduates and professionals in the knowledge sector and more needs to be done to provide opportunities for these people to work locally. This development will create more well paid jobs in the city centre, reducing the current high levels of out-commuting. Around 10,000 people commute out of Winchester every day, which has a hugely detrimental impact on the City’s carbon footprint, whilst also restricting the contribution of these industries to the local economy and reducing the scope for social integration in the district.
Winchester is only able to sustain its attractive town centre if there are people spending money in the local shops, pubs and restaurants. If existing employers were to leave the City there would be a hugely negative impact on the city’s businesses and services. The economy must serve all sections of the community and younger generations, be they residents or students graduating from the Universities, must be able to have the opportunity to secure employment in the City. This objective will best be served by offering a range of employment opportunities in small, medium and large businesses in both the public and private sectors.
Station Approach is not the same as Silver Hill, although both form part of the overall vision for the future of the city. Each set of proposals is appropriate to the specific location. The scale and nature of consultation for the Station Approach proposals reflects a new approach to consultation, involving everyone interested at a much earlier stage than before.
A key concern raised during consultation was that the design of a new development would be inappropriate and detract from Winchester’s strengths as a key tourist destination. Any development going forward will be of a high design quality, and if it is decided to proceed with the Station Approach development the sensitive design of the area will be a key principle of a design brief for architects.
Parking is an important element of the area at present and will remain so in any future proposals. Careful consideration will be given to parking opportunities throughout the area and different parking needs, including those of residents’. The costs of moving parking underground are likely to be prohibitive; a multi-storey option is more likely. Wider transport issues will also form a key part of any proposals, given the proximity of the railway station, bus, walking and cycling routes.
Parking surveys have been undertaken in relation to car park usage, occupancy and purpose. These will be used to help inform future car parking provision in the area. These show that occupancy of car parks in this area is very high on weekdays but less busy at weekends. The information will also help the Council to determine what quantum of parking should be provided in different areas to try to reduce the impact of vehicle movements through the Andover Road/ City Road Junction.
No plans have been made for the future of the Registry Office, which some are keen to preserve. Architects will be asked to look at the building and whether it would be appropriate to incorporate it into developments. The Conservative Club is not currently included within the area that is being considered for development.
This is already a busy area. Proposals for developing Station Approach offer an opportunity to consider transport improvements. The City Council is working with the County Council in undertaking transport studies to identify issues in the area and ensure a good understanding of the options for improvement. The Council is also considering pedestrian and cyclist access to Station Approach and talking to partners such as South West Trains and Peter Symonds College to get a better understanding of what the concerns and issues are for the area and what opportunities exist to improve this as part of any development that might go forward.
The Council is also working with South West Trains to establish a cycling hub at the station with the aim of improving the facilities available to cyclists.