City of Winchester Trust
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Response to the Silver Hill planning application

CWT Planning Application comments Date: 22.9.14

Date 17/08/14 Ref No. W20100/04, 05 Case No. 14/01912/FUL, 14/01913/FUL
Location Silver Hill, Tanner St, SO23 8AE.
Proposal Variation of planning permission 06/01901/FUL: 287 dwellings to 177 dwellings; removal of affordable housing; removal of bus station for a bus interchange facility in including waiting and ticketing facilities and public conveniences; subsequent alterations to building B allowing additional retail floor space, accessed along a new retail street on Silver Hill; removal of live-work units, office space, youth centre and medical centreSilver Hill development
Comments See comments below.

Comments for 14/01912/FUL & 14/01913/FUL

The Trust is grateful to the architect for the time he spent being questioned and giving us additional information, which was very helpful in understanding this complicated amendment.

One of the Trust’s main objections to the previously approved scheme was that too much was being demanded of the site, with the result that the character of both Friarsgate and Tanner Street was unacceptable.

There is still a heavy demand on the site, especially for parking provision, so that Building A remains taller than we would wish. However, the removal of the bus station from the development has reduced the height of Building B and been a considerable gain for the public realm, allowing Friarsgate to be included in the overall scheme, with the building frontages set back to allow a wider pavement, a number of shopfronts and sufficient planting to make it a much more pleasant street and place in which to wait at the new bus stops, especially if it can be ensured that there is a café included in these shops. It is hoped that whoever runs the ticket office will provide adequate real-time information about the schedules of all the bus companies using it, and that to prevent bus travellers trudging up and down the road, there will be maps showing which stop is the right one for their journey. Tanner Street is also greatly improved by the removal of its role as a prime route for delivery vehicles.

The loss of the affordable and social housing is greatly regretted, and it is hoped that the affordable housing will be relocated in a reasonably central area as soon as possible.

Buildings A & B

The treatment of the elevations is an improvement on the previous scheme, and we have been assured that the height of the carpark floors will still be suitable for conversion to other uses should parking policies change some time in the future.

Buildings C & D

There was concern at the detrimental effect the vista of uninterrupted ventilation grills of the carpark floors would have on the tranquil waterside walk between these two buildings, and it has been suggested that visual breaks in the stretches of metal louvres, such as brick or flint panels, together will climbing planting might be a solution.

Landscaping & General Ambience

Much of the success of the development will rely on aspects that seem unimportant at this stage, when the design of the buildings and their layout in the site are the focus of attention. These seemingly trivial details will, however, make a considerable difference to how satisfactory the local character will be for those walking around the area. Are the seats placed where you would like them to be for a short rest when carrying a heavy load, and are they comfortable to sit on? It is highly desirable that these are designed to be appropriate for the style of the surrounding buildings; the same applies to litter bins, which should be placed with care so that they are clearly visible, but not intrusive.

The design of the street furniture and lighting will be crucial, as will the appearance of the bus shelters. It is very much hoped that conditions will ensure that these are very well designed, with adequate weather protection and seating. The same applies to the details of the soft landscaping, water features and art work that is proposed.

Other items needing conditions are the siting of burglar alarms, the positions of which should be included in the design if they would be visible from the public domain, and what happens to dustbins on collection day. We understand that these will normally be hidden within the buildings, but will the refuse lorries collect from there, or will the bins be put out on the street, and if so, where? It is felt most strongly that all the retail properties should be serviced by the same firm or at least on the same day, so that no dustbins are visible on other days of the week, as is the current practice in many Winchester streets, and that there is strong control to ensure that they get returned to their usual hidden storage places soon after collection.

The Trust would prefer darker tarmac for the roads, rather then the light colour being proposed, because this will be liable to discolouration from tyre scrub and oil leaks. Rather than black, we understand there is the possibility of having a more intermediate colour, which we think would be preferable, provided it would not show any deterioration.

The Trust also considers that the shopfront design guide seems inadequate and needs more detailed guidance to ensure that lettering in particular is regulated.

Conclusion

Overall the Trust considers the amendments proposed are an improvement on the original scheme, and there are no objections this time, although it still has the concerns listed above.

Date 17/08/14 Ref No. W20100/07, 06LB Case No. 14/01915/FUL, 14/01916/LIS
Location Silver Hill, Tanner St, SO23 8AE.
Proposal Demolition of 149/150 High Street & replacement with 3-storey retail & residential building, and of 153 High Street & replacement with 3-storey retail & residential building; construction of new 3-storey retail & residential building at 161-2 High Street (entrance to bus station)Silver Hill development
Comments See comments below.

Comments for 14/01915/FUL & 14/01916/LIS

Removal of brick arch between 153 High Street & Maison Blanc

149/150 High Street

The Trust now understands the reasons for this and is happy to accept their demolition and replacement.

153 High Street & the arch connecting it to Maison Blanc

The Trust understands the reasons why these demolitions are being proposed, but is not happy about the way it is proposed to be done. Because of the contribution it makes to the street scene the loss of No 153 is very much regretted, as is the arch and the narrow entrance below that is characteristic of the Winchester scene. We appreciate that there are important advantages in making this a more spacious pedestrian route rather than a narrow short cut, and we are told the entrance has to be widened because the major new store that can be reached via Cross Keys Passage will not be leasable unless it can be seen from the High Street, and that it is essential that No 153 is removed to make this possible.

The removal of the arch would at least have the benefit of allowing a clear view of the interesting jettied first floor on the side of the Maison Blanc building being visible from the High Street.

It is wondered, however, whether it would be possible to open up Cross Keys Passage in a less drastic manner, so that it would have more in common with the route from the Butter Cross to The Square, rather than having a road width. It is stated that it used to be wider here in historic times, but time moves on and so does the character of the local environment. A member not involved in our discussion has suggested that an historic reminder of the past would be to have some crossed keys installed over the entrance.

161-2 High Street

This new building caused a divergence of opinion among the Trust’s design review panel.

Some felt it would be an alien structure in the street scene, with a gable facing onto the street that over-accentuated its height, and a façade of uninterrupted flint that would be very different from the more subtle appearance of traditionally constructed flint-&-brick or flint-&-stone buildings in the High Street.

Others felt it would be acceptable as a visual stop to the row of buildings along this side of the road.

All were concerned that the modern detailing of the flint panels, although appropriate in the modern context of the new development, seemed out of place in this position in an historic street. It was suggested that it might be more acceptable if the detailing were improved, with more emphasis around the windows, visual support for the flint above the shop-fronts, horizontal subdivisions and continuation of the corner support down to ground level. There was a very mixed reaction to the use of steel on the corner of this building, which some felt was visually unsatisfactory.

Whilst the Trust OBJECTS to this building as shown, it is suggested that if further thought were given to the design and detailing of the building it might be acceptable, or, alternatively, simply reverting to brickwork might provide the solution.