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Chairman's Jottings - TrustNews Jun 19

It is becoming evident that the way in which we traditionally have developed land could become redundant thinking even in the short- term future. There are many influences around that promote such thinking, the most important of which is climate change. However other influences are:

1. One in seven of the working population works from home. As much as 95% of U.K. businesses employ fewer than 10 people. This fact has nearly doubled in the past twenty years and continues to grow fast.

2. Shopping habits are changing dramatically reducing the amount of floor space required.

3. The way in which we commute is in question and the way we move around is fiercely debated.

4. The health system is faltering, and there is a constant debate as to how health care is provided. Could more healthcare facilities be provided locally to reduce the need for people to have to travel to hospitals for basic treatments?

5. Modern communication: how is this now and in the future likely to affect the way we think and live? Technology has already influenced us all in a very short period of time and is likely to accelerate its influence over the way we operate.

Winchester is currently in an interesting position: it has developable areas in the centre, as well as to the north of the City. So how are these assets best developed, bearing in mind climate change and my list of potential social impact assessments?

l would think that housing is probably the key, not as we build them today, but buildings that are far more flexible. The current way in which housing development is approached by all concerned is archaic and not fit for the way we should be living. Layouts are inefficient and a poor use of high value land. Current housing layouts are socially destructive and provide little sense of community.

Perhaps we ought to stop thinking in terms of ‘housing schemes’ but ‘community schemes’ instead, so that the idea of community is at the heart of the design thinking.

Communities should embrace living areas, incorporate a variety of work spaces, provide various leisure facilities, etc. Community schemes would obviously vary depending on inner or outer city development. Cars are socially disruptive and a radical re-think needs to be considered in the way we move around and use vehicles.

So my fundamental question is: is the brief for development proposals on the Carfax site, the central Winchester area, suburban housing sites, likely to be fit for purpose in 25 years’ time?

Keith Leaman