City of Winchester Trust
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City of Winchester Trust
A Vision for Winchester
Members’ meeting, 21st February 2019
At St Peter’s Pastoral Centre, Jewry St, Winchester

1. Introduction and presentation

John Beveridge welcomed members and introduced the Vision, after which there was a slide presentation on the contents of the Vision by John Beveridge, Richard Baker and John Hearn.

2. Discussion

John Beveridge opened the floor to questions and comments, taking the chapters in turn.

• Three guiding principles

Chris Holloway – disappointed there is no mention of sustainability in the three principles.

• General comments

Nicholas Craig Harvey – the economy of the City of Winchester is going downhill. He has been trying to get the regeneration of the economy of the City going for 5 years. The City needs a vision created by the people. Recommended all read a paper by Richard Rogers from a few years ago on cathedral cities, which is highly apt for Winchester. Every day 20,000 people commute into Winchester. The vision for the City must be both social and economic and must come from the bottom. The Trust’s Vision document is very good, although he disagrees with some of it. But there is no point just putting it in front of the Council – it will be destined for their shredding machine.

Richard Baker – Winchester has 17,000 students from nursery up to tertiary with associated academic and support staff and so is a major part of the City’s economy.

Caroline York – despite asking them over and over again, the Council never says what money it has available for Central Winchester Regeneration. There is no point coming up with proposals if it turns out there is not the money for them.

Geoff Sharman – pointed out that there are no email or website contact details on the document – not helpful when being asked to submit comments. Feels there must be a focus on the centre of Winchester – the Trust shouldn’t be looking at ring roads, landscape setting, new stations etc as we cannot achieve all of that. It is not possible to have a citywide framework – it would be too big a job.

• Conservation and landscape

Cllr Anne Weir – communities in the suburbs also value conservation and landscape, even if they are outside the Conservation Area.

Judith Martin – welcomed the fact that the Council has recently cleaned the High Street, but it is not looking after upper floors of buildings, there is pigeon mess etc.

• Economy

Cllr Kim Gottlieb – money is running out, and the Council is not going to be able to attract the quality of staff that John Hearn mentioned the need for. For example there is no Andrew Rutter at the Council any more. The Trust is therefore needed more than ever and it must take as robust and proactive a view as possible. Does not agree with Geoff Sharman’s comment that the Trust should ignore the suburbs etc. This is a great document, even though he doesn’t agree with all of it.

Richard York – has been promoting a music hall for the City. River Park a possible site when the leisure centre moves – the covenants on it restrict its use and there is some interest in the Council for it to be used for cultural purposes.

Elizabeth Thorn – is on a community group that liaises with the University. The University is working on a masterplan and there will be opportunities for consultation.

• Movement

Phil Gagg – found the background in the Vision and Richard Baker’s outline accurate. But we now know that if our carbon footprint keeps increasing we will be dead in 2035 or so, therefore we cannot afford to embark on big projects that will increase transport emissions eg a western bypass. We should not tempt people into carrying out feasibility studies into things that will kill us. Clarification – Andover Road is not being closed – it is being turned into a pedestrian and cycleway and could therefore become Winchester’s Via Appia. The Movement Strategy consultation says that traffic that goes through Winchester north-south is only 7% of the total, so a western bypass would only reduce traffic by a few percent.

Richard Baker – would like to see these actual figures – 7% of what? Percentages are not always helpful.

Elizabeth Thorn – feels the Trust’s proposal is a good compromise. Disagrees with Phil Gagg, and also feels a western bypass would really come into its own when there are hold ups on the M3

Cllr Liz Hutchison (Kessler) – there is a link between movement and housing. So many people commute into Winchester because there is not enough affordable housing in the centre. The Council owns sites that could be used for this – the surface car parks – where high quality, high density affordable housing could be built so people don’t have to travel so much. Winchester is a compact city and eminently walkable. We need to find ways to reduce travel rather than looking for better ways of accommodating vehicles.

Andrew Rutter – the movement strategy has said that there is no money for footbridges, so how are effective pedestrian and cycleways going to be built?

Cllr Kim Gottlieb – there are carrots and sticks in the movement strategy. Unfortunately sticks are cheaper and more deliverable than carrots, but the whole package must be delivered – it can’t be piecemeal. For example, pedestrianisation will not be successful without more park and ride.

Phil Gagg – the work suggesting new railway stations is good but unambitious – why not suggest more stations? Exeter has opened several recently. The Government has a fund for new stations and we should ask the Council to ask for it. The major contribution trains can make is to reduce congestion on the M3 and in central Winchester. We should support the improvement or construction of stations in the south of the district, which is where so many of Winchester’s commuters start from. Capacity on the line should also be improved.

• Housing and density

Judith Martin – more affordable (or less unaffordable) housing is crucial to everything – movement etc. Winchester is a rich city and we need more social housing that is well built and also ways to deal with its resale into the private sector.

Elizabeth Thorn – surprised at Kim Gottlieb’s comment that the City is running out of money when developers seem to hold sway over the Council. The City cannot accommodate more houses – we are running out of water and there are problems with wastewater.

John Beveridge – new housing is needed and will be built, Government housebuilding targets etc.

Michael Carden – the local authority is finding it difficult to find the money for the expertise it needs. Privately in Winchester there is a wealth of skill, for example architects. There must be a way the Council can call on these skills, although it must be handled carefully to avoid accusations that eg architects are pursuing their own agendas. In his experience this does not happen and groups of such people tend to reach consensus.

Chris Holloway – there is lots in the document that is interesting. Not clear whether this is Trust policy – told it was and now are being told it is a consultation document. Wants the Trust to get its act together and decide. It is not helpful if different Trust people disagree. It should all be sorted out in advance with Trust members and agreed so there are no differences.

Martin Willey – would like to congratulate the Trust on the document, which is full of important ideas. It would be impossible to agree a consensus document. Winchester needs a chief planner like Jack Thompson (past Winchester City Council Director of Planning).

Tessa Robertson