City of Winchester Trust
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PLANNING - GENERAL

The City of Winchester Trust engages with the planning environment of the City of Winchester at several levels, which sometimes overlap. There are large development schemes such as Station Approach, the proposed Bar End Sports complex and the Central Area Regeneration. In contrast there is the weekly review of planning applications which goes down to the level of replacing shop signs and up to the demolition of a whole house with replacement developments consisting of several houses or apartment blocks. The latter task is undertaken by the Planning Appraisal Group, the former by the Trust Council as a whole or as delegated. Broader policy issues, such as the review of the Local Plan Parts 1 and 2 or the Conservation Area strategy, are taken up by the Planning Policy Group. Issues concerning traffic and parking, roofscapes or Homes of Multiple Occupancy, for example, may arise at any one of these levels.

Trust positions on larger scale developments

  1. The principles of good urban design should apply to any development involving a group of buildings. The Trust has a preference for 'streets and squares' development that creates surroundings that encourage neighbours to communicate with and care for one another, where the difference between private space and public realm is clear, where cars do not dominate and where there is a distinctive character to the development. This is sometimes summed up as 'place-making'.
  2. The regeneration of large urban areas, although generally to be welcomed in poor quality neighbourhoods both for the commercial health of the City and for the benefit of its towns-people, has posed unprecedented design problems. This is because the process departs from the Trust's view that change in Winchester has always been a slow and piecemeal process, with buildings replaced here and there as they became redundant, so maintaining the texture of street frontages. Comprehensive 'house-style' redevelopment across several frontages is not in character for an historic town such as Winchester.
    Our policy is therefore as follows:
    • Designs should reflect the period in which they are built while respecting the historical context in which they are to be placed.
    • Designers should strive to achieve not only an urban plan that is in character with Winchester, but elevations that in some way perpetuate the busy, small scale texture of its streets and should not greatly exceed the height of surrounding buildings.
    • Existing buildings should be retained and integrated into the development.
    • Attention should be paid to the quality of the public spaces created as well as to that of the buildings. The aim is to improve liveability as well as appearance.
    • Where possible, large areas of regeneration should be subdivided into separate smaller developments, or different architects commissioned to design different areas (subject to an overall masterplan).

Traffic

Vehicles are a necessary part of Winchester and always have been, but we maintain that traffic must adapt to Winchester and not the other way round. We are opposed to street widening, corner cutting, pavement parking, and other insidious means of easing the situation of vehicular traffic at the expense of pedestrians and the built environment. We are keen to see traffic congestion reduced by removing central car parks, with pedestrian activity in central areas being increased by Park-&-Ride schemes and other means to improve the lot of both pedestrians and cyclists, provided these are not mutually detrimental to one another. On the whole we prefer the Dutch 'woonerf' principle (the shared use of streets with pedestrian rather than vehicular priority) to extending full pedestrianisation of all streets in the central area, although we are increasingly in favour of eliminating all but essential traffic within the historic centre.

Views

Existing public views where important should be retained, but not all views are sacrosanct when a good scheme warrants change. Opportunities for new views must be treated with care as old cities tend to be closed-in spaces. Overviews are especially important in a city surrounded by hills, which makes views of roofs and foliage as important as views from close quarters.

Members and Public Comments

The Trust welcomes informative comments from local people, but must avoid being influenced by vested interests or personal matters. The tight programme of WCC meetings means that it is not possible for panels to visit more than a very few sites, and individuals who believe their interests are being threatened by proposed schemes are advised to contact their Ward Councillors, who have more influence over such matters.

Planning Appraisal Group A seperate page describes the Planning Appraisal Group


Mary Tiles July 2017