City of Winchester Trust
  • kingalf
  • cathedral
  • roundtable
  • westgate
  • guildhall
  • wolsey
  • stcross
  • library





STATION APPROACH
City of Winchester Trust statement Latest position March 2017

Following our report on what had happened so far with the Station Approach project (dated 01.11.2016), an entirely new competition process was approved by Cabinet this week. This follows the appointment of a new Leader and a new Chief Executive. They carefully reviewed the situation, consulted stakeholders and revised both the original brief and the competition process. The Trust was amongst those consulted and was able to explain its preferences, particularly that on this occasion the process should be managed by the RIBA, and that once selected, the new design team should be allowed flexibility when interpreting the brief. We are pleased to report that both these recommendations have been adopted together with other improvements. The Trust has welcomed the changes but remains concerned over some aspects as set out in the following statement made to the Cabinet and Overview & Scrutiny meetings on 20th of March.

Station Approach (2) - Cabinet and O&S meetings 20.3.17

The City of Winchester Trust welcomes the new and greatly improved approach to the project but has 3 cautionary comments on Design, and 1 on the Process.

DESIGN

New offices - The Trust has always expressed great unease about the amount of office space required in the original Brief and remains uneasy that the same figures are repeated in the revised Brief, even though on this occasion they are given as provisional rather than mandatory. A very recent review by the 2020 Group (of which the Trust is a member), gives rise to further concern about the grade and consequently the nature and size of office accommodation as well. It is not that we are against development of high quality offices in the Station area, on the contrary we have always been in favour of it. Our concern was and remains that that the Council's office aspirations, and associated car parking, may exceed what is compatible with the character of Winchester. We have no means of verifying the justification provided in Cabinet Report, but still suspect that it may be based on advice that has not taken this vitally important aspect into account. We are not alone in our concern about this issue: LPP2 states that "planning permission will be granted provided that proposals ensure that the scale of the development respects and is not overbearing for nearby residential and other properties." Using the very same space requirements, this was not achieved last time round, meaning that the scheme would not have obtained planning approval.

The Registry Office - Similarly, with the experience of what happened last time, the Trust believes that the original Railway Inn relates so well to the station, aesthetically and historically, that it should remain in the new scheme, providing a desirable service to the travelling public and the public realm. Only if a new design for the Carfax site significantly improved on this relationship and the setting of the station, should the existing building's demolition and replacement be contemplated. In this case LPP2 remarks that "whilst retention is not an absolute policy requirement...it would be necessary for proposals to demonstrate a high quality scheme, along with an improved circulation area and public realm in front of the station."

Traffic and Movement - Whilst the Trust is greatly encouraged by the Council's efforts to make good the previous absence of information on this subject, we remain concerned that much of what is necessary will not be available until after the design stage is started. This may be unavoidable but must not be allowed to prejudice what is the single most important ingredient of a successful development.

PROCESS

The Trust is very pleased that its preference for an RIBA managed competition has been taken up and that the need for transparency is to be met by regular Council monitoring and consultation with stakeholders, planners and the public. It is in everyone's interest that the process should not go off the rails again, so it is particularly important that all concerned recognise that the first task of the Design Team is to check the feasibility of the project in the light of the potentially conflicting requirements of the Provisional Brief.

MC for CWT