City of Winchester Trust
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The Big Conservation Conversation
A tribute from The City of Winchester Trust

The City of Winchester Trust regards the legislation introduced by Lord Duncan Sandys half a century ago as groundbreaking, writing in 2004 that: 'There has of course been major planning legislation since the sixties, but none we suggest comparable in importance for conservation than the Civic Amenities Act of 1967. This is because the creation of Conservation Areas together with a growing awareness of the value of our heritage, have together served to prevent damage on anything like the scale of previous years'.

Winchester's first Conservation Officer was appointed following Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, when Winchester City Council was founded as a single city and district authority, amalgamating the two previous authorities for the area - a small council for the city alone and a larger council for the district.

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The new Conservation Officer, Andrew Rutter, had transferred from Hampshire County Council with the new authority's first Director of Planning, Jack Thompson, who suggested that Andrew should attend the monthly meetings of The Winchester Preservation Trust. Founded in 1957 the Trust was renamed The City of Winchester Trust in 2000 at the suggestion of our then Vice President, Sir Hugh Casson, to avoid the widespread impression that we resisted any change, whereas it has always been the character of the city that we wished to preserve, believing that continuing and appropriate change is an important part of the city's character.

Andrew Rutter attended the Trust's monthly meetings until his retirement in 1999, and the working relationship that developed between us was undoubtedly of great benefit to the city. This tradition has been continued with city officers attending the Trust's meetings. As an architect planner Andrew's service to Winchester (and the wider district) was exemplary. His final activity was to carry out a very personal street-by-street conservation review of the city, which formed the basis of a subsequent Conservation Area Appraisal, which the Trust helped to fund.

The Trust was given his original hand written document, which was painstakingly typed out and, eventually, after editing by a Trust committee, published in 2009 with over 50 illustrations (including many drawings by the author) as 'Winchester - Heart of a City'. In his foreword to this remarkable book the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu wrote:

Winchester is one of the best examples of the benefits of conservation area legislation. It is a tribute to the Council and its officers that the city was one of the first to designate conservation areas and to apply the balanced policy of preservation and enhancement, so that this world famous city has been spared the worst of the damage done in many other places. Amongst those officers who rose to the new challenge, Andrew Rutter is an outstanding example, as I learnt during my chairmanship of English Heritage, when we had the responsibility of monitoring and encouraging the process. It is a great pleasure to me, therefore, to introduce his book and to commend it not only to Wintonians, but to all cities, towns and villages. that value their heritage and wish to manage change so that it enhances rather than only preserves their character.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Conservation Area legislation the Trust plans to publish a second edition.