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Planning Appraisal Group - TrustNews December 07

The proposal to demolish 17 Bereweeke Road for 12 new dwellings has been refused, and the proposed replacement of existing garages at Garage Court, Fivefields Road, has been withdrawn.

Two developments to which we had objected have been permitted: the demolition of 10A Stoney Lane for 10 new houses, and the single storey extensions to 40 King's Avenue, which we felt would set an undesirable precedent for the integrity of the original design of this part of the Stanmore estate.

Of the many applications seen by the Trust's viewing panels since the last TrustNews, four are particularly interesting: two small residential schemes, and two larger developments.

Panel members were aghast at the proposals for 3 Fordington Avenue, where extensive alterations to the semi¬detached house included a flat-roofed first-floor side and rear extension that would result in 2-storey development across the site, dormers to the side, front and rear, timber cladding and new aluminium windows. No thought had been given to how these would relate to the character of the road or the other half of the semi¬detached house, and we strongly objected to this application.

We also objected strongly to the proposed partial demolition and rebuilding of 3 Nuns Road, because the drawings showed almost total replacement and we felt it would be virtually impossible for a new-build reconstruction to blend in satisfactorily with the existing terrace of semi-detached houses. A visit to the site found the house already mostly demolished, before the application had even gone through the system. On checking with the LPA, it seems that although they find this demolition as unacceptable as we do, the present planning legislation appears not to allow them to take action against the developers, unbelievable as this may seem.

The Royal Observer HQ, Abbotts Road, has been sold on, with outline permission for development on the site, and the new developer has put in a different scheme. The layout, number and type of dwelling are similar to the permitted scheme, but sadly the style of the houses now seems to come from a standard book of designs, with superficial additions to make them look different. We strongly objected to the closed-gate entrance, feeling this was unacceptable because would be uncharacteristic of both the local area and Winchester as a whole, and railings on Abbotts Road.

A development causing a lot of local concern is the proposed 375 residential units on Queen's Road. to be used by the University of Winchester. The initial reaction of horror felt by the panels at the large buildings marching down the hill was somewhat reduced by the applicant's presentation to the Trust Council and panel members, although an objection was still made because of the lack of detail. A further presentation answered many of these concerns, and we withdrew our objection, registering our remaining concerns about the materials and their implementation, the large number of cycle racks, and the need to provide evergreen under-planting on the boundary with Milnthorpe Lane. We were assured by both the University and the developer that they would be happy to have fewer bike racks and to provide the necessary under-planting.

Our fears about the effects of the high density schemes springing up around Winchester were raised in our 2003 Annual Report, when it seemed developments were being considered individually on an ad hoc basis, rather than how they would affect the area as a whole. Since then several Local Area Design Statements have come into being, sadly seeming to lock the stable door after the horse had bolted.

A trawl through developments granted, built, refused and at appeal in the north¬west fringes of Winchester since then gives rise to considerable concern, especially for the ability of the infrastructure to cope with the extra load that is required. The current method of calculating increased housing is by the number of dwellings per hectare (dph), but as we pointed out in 2003 this can be misleading - it is the number of people (beds) living in the dwellings that is more relevant.

Four roads lead into Winchester from the west and north: Romsey, Stockbridge, Andover and Worthy Roads. These all end up at the City Road/Sussex Street/ Winchester Station/Stockbridge Road/ Andover Road junction, which has a long time-lapse between light changes, and then much of the traffic goes along City Road and North Walls, both of which are already congested.

The following figures are by no means 100% accurate - some developments may have been missed and there are many smaller infill schemes, but they do give an indication of the way things are going.

Romsey Road has a permitted development of 300 dwellings (505 residents) and has the traffic inflow from Chilbolton Avenue of the permitted 184 dwellings (449 new residents). This is a total of 484 dwellings and 954 residents, together with another possible 85 dwellings (190 residents) of schemes that have been refused or are at appeal.

Stockbridge Road is currently the most endangered route into the city. It has to cope with traffic from developments on Stoney Lane, Dean Lane and its tributaries, as well as those on Stockbridge Road itself. It already has to cope with 427 permitted developments (about 1110 residents), and possibly another 48 dwellings (112 residents). A nursing home at Warden Hill (up to 80 beds) and sheltered accommodation in Burnett Close (ca 146 beds) might be permitted, and the traffic generated by Waitrose and whatever happens on the Aldi site will all add to the load the road has to carry.

Andover Road has approved and pending schemes totalling about 221 dwellings (508 residents), plus some not yet approved; residents from Park Road might also use this route into the city centre. It is also vulnerable to the 2000 dwellings that could be built on the present greenfield site at Barton Farm, which would add considerably to local traffic.

Worthy Road is under less stress at present, with the 87 possible residents from Park Road and those from the 14 dwellings of the ROC HQ wanting to use this as a route into the city centre.

In round figures, it seems that since 2003 about 1150 new dwellings (with about 2700 residents) have been allowed along these four roads, with another possible 150 units (300 residents) in the pipeline, plus any traffic caused by Waitrose and whatever happens on the Aldi site. Although it is hoped many will travel by bus or ride a bike, some people will drive. Can this junction cope with the extra load? — and, perhaps more importantly, can the rest of the infrastructure?

Shione Carden