Monday, 9 January 2017

A look at the scrubland at Hillier Way - consultation upcoming!

A happy new year to everybody!

Last week at the local councillor's surgery I heard that the city council was planning to hold another consultation event regarding the scrubland at Hillier Road. According to info I received from the Scouts since then, this event will be on Saturday 25 February. The council should soon send a leaflet to residents with the consultation details, just as it did with other events in the area.

Over the last weeks, the city council has been busy with clearing the area as it was completely overgrown with brambles and almost inaccessible.

This morning I went there and had a look, here are some photos (click on them to enlarge):

I came in via the car park at Hillier Road and looked towards the
air cadet's building. This area is the land which could house the Scouts.

I made my way onto one of the elevated areas
(which seem to form a border around the terrain nearer the 'hole in the wall')
to get a better look at the cleared area behind the car park.

Here again is the area between the car park and the air cadet hut.

I turned around and moved on beyond the elevated border
and found a spade and some pliers.

I made my way through the area behind the border and arrived
at the other end near the 'hole in the wall' in Abbotts Barton and
turned back to take this photo.

Somebody dug some steps into the border a while ago.
Here as seen from the entrance near the 'hole in the wall'.

The consultation presentation should bring some clarity about what the city council wants to do in terms of landscaping and also how much land exactly could be going to the Scouts and how much should be available to the public.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

What has been going on in 2016?

Hello, it's been a while since this blog has been used and it's time for a check-in.

First of all, the proposed changes to how the land is used in Abbotts Barton (and in Winchester in general) are part of the Local Plan Part 2 as submitted to the government inspector earlier this year. The inspector created a report which now needs to be adopted and therefore is under consultation. You can leave comments at the online WCC consultation on the proposed modifications of Local Plan Part 2 - which closes "no later than noon on 12 December 2016"! Comments can also be sent by email to This has all been communicated via the Parish Connect Newsletters and there is also a Local Plan eNewsletter that you can subscribe to.

As was planned by the City Council, Houses are currently being built at Hillier Road which will provide 13 new dwellings. The photo shows the info displayed on site. More information can be found on the New Council Housing - Abbotts Barton and On Site Schemes pages and on the Application Summary page on the WCC website.

This loss of open land to the community has prompted WCC to look again at the scrubland behind the car park at the bottom of Hillier Road (also know as the Cadet Site), opposite the football club. It seemed originally that nobody was interested in doing anything with this land after the Council declined to use this area for new houses (see the Planning Report on the Scrubland at Hillier Way, May 2013 on the Council website). However, this year there were negotiations between the Council, the Scouts and the Abbotts Barton Commuity Group as to how it should be used going forward. The idea is that the Scouts get a portion of it that they can fence off (for safe-guarding reasons) and erect a building on for a local Scout group. The rest would then be opened up for the general public, with a part being looked after by Hampshire Wildlife Trust and the WCC Landscaping Team to become an area for walking and enjoying nature, and another to be an open grassy area (see also the Abbotts Barton Community Group August 2016 Update). There were some further public consultations promised but later cancelled.

As for the Dyson Drive green, the Village Green Application has not been decided on yet. It is still 'under investigation' according to this Hampshire County Council table from August 2016:

Most importantly, no new plans to build on the main Chaundler Road parkland (apart from at the bottom of Charles Close) have surfaced. The main park is actually well used these days, probably better than it ever was before the City Council shocked the community with its house building plans: just this week students were there for almost every day during the daytime to practice land surveying; on the weekends and lighter evenings there are often exercisers and football players; and in the summer monthly community picnics were taking place.

That's seems to be it for 2016. Have a good transition into 2017 whatever your plans are and thank you for your support!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Local Plan Part 2 updates

Today's Parish Connect newsletter had this section about how Winchester City Council are progressing with the Local Plan Part 2 in it; the link takes you to all the representations made by residents:

Local Plan Part 2 - Development Management and Site Allocations Feedback from consultation

The Council has recently uploaded onto its website all the representations received through the consultation on Local Plan Part 2 (LPP2) held during October – December 2014. These can be viewed at Over 1,100 representations were received, making some 2000 comments covering a range of matters dealt with by LPP2.
Two Local Plan Committees have now been scheduled for 12th March and 30th March 2015. These meetings will receive reports summarising the issues raised and suggesting an appropriate course of action. In the majority of cases, the representations raise issues that need further work and assessment which will then be reported back to the Local Plan Committee during late May/early June. At this stage, decisions will be made as to which sites to allocate for development. The Strategic Planning team will be contacting those Parish Councils covering the larger settlements shortly to go through the issues raised and discuss how these may be resolved. The first Local Plan Committee meeting on 12 March will include schedules for Colden Common, Kings Worthy, Swanmore, Waltham Chase, Wickham and South Hampshire Urban Areas. The remainder of the Plan will be covered at the meeting on 30 March.
The Council is still hoping that it will be able to publish the Pre-submission version of LPP2 during July. If so, consultation will be over the summer period (hence the early notification) and is likely to be for a longer period than the normal 6 weeks.  This period of consultation will focus on ‘soundness’ issues prior to the Plan being formally submitted for examination later in the year. 
(Links: Full newsletter email in your browser / Parish Connect on the site)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Councillors agreed to revisit the potential of unused sites

On Saturday there was an article in the Hampshire Chronicle ("Planners considering adding extra houses to 2,000-home Barton Farm development") reporting that there are "new government guidelines allowing firms to avoid the payments on small-scale projects" which "will cost the council up to £920,000". This means a shortfall for the affordable housing budget. Winchester Cabinet members are now thinking about adding extra houses to the Barton Farm project and "fringe countryside and urban plots previously deemed unnecessary may also be developed".

Following that, a look at the 14 January WCC Cabinet meeting agenda (meeting notes not available yet) yielded item 9 to be "Changes to Government Guidance on Planning Obligations – Impact on Affordable Housing Provision" which was accompanied by a report (PDF file) of the assistant director (chief housing officer), page 6 mentions "Abbots Barton" (sic) as an example for possible developments:

"Therefore, while there is no planning policy requirement to identify more landfor housing, whether affordable or market, Members could choose for reasonsof housing policy to take a more proactive approach to developing ‘exception’sites, particularly in Winchester, just as is being proposed by Draft Local Plan2 Policy WIN 9 for Abbots Barton. If so, the scale and scope of any sitesearch would need to be carefully defined given the number and scale of sitesaround the Town which are being promoted for development through theSHLAA and Local Plan Part 2. Local Plan Policy CP4 allows for “exceptions”affordable housing sites to be allocated in order to maximise affordablehousing provision. Such housing would be considered to be additional to“general” housing supply for the purposes calculating delivery of the District’soverall housing targets. Such an approach has the potential to compensatefor affordable housing foregone as a consequence of changes to nationalplanning guidance. It also provides the opportunity to accelerate the rate of delivery (and increase overall supply) in order to meet housing needs morequickly, efficiently and effectively." 

This is definitely something to be watched to make sure that our much loved park is not becoming a target for development again.

Affordable housing is definitely needed, however a healthy balance needs to be found between building density and open spaces. On that note, here is a Guardian article from earlier in January that struck a note: "Children in our towns and cities are being robbed of safe spaces to play".

January morning sunshine at Abbotts Barton green

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Are you joining the Winchester March?

Saturday is coming closer and so is the Winchester March! A lot of people seem to think the march is only about Silver Hill - well, no, that's not the case!

While the lack of affordable housing in the Silver Hill project in my mind is definitely something worth protesting about, there is also the way the City Council is running consultations: do you remember the uncontrolled 'dot exercise' in Abbotts Barton in 2012? Or what about the Leisure Centre consultation that was held before the Council even had the report on a wider selection of options done?

If any of those irked you too (or maybe something else), please come and join us!

Most people should have received a postcard with the details by now. If not, here is the Winchester March website with everything you need to know:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Local Plan 2 exhibition for Winchester town

This afternoon I went to the exhibition about the Local Plan 2 and had a quick look around. If you can't make it there, all the exhibition boards (and a comment form) can be found on the City Council's website. Once there, click on "Draft Local Plan Exhibition Boards". The PDF document contains more than just the Winchester town boards, so after the initial general ones you can find the ones particular to Winchester town almost all the way at the end.

After listening to a conversation about the town boundary (blue line) and the fact that building rules are quite different for the area considered as countryside and how the City Council wants to protect it, I asked why the City Council is planning to build outside the town boundary, pointing to the area in the park at the end of Charles Close (see red circle on map) and was told that must be an exception to the rules. There was no more information available. After closer inspection of the map in the PDF file just now, zooming in a lot, it actually looks like the town boundary would just about allow a few houses at the end of Charles Close but it's a tight fit. Still this doesn't explain why the Council has stepped away from the Council Leader's statement made last year. When I asked about that I was told that this would be a question for the housing people. After that I gave up and decided to have another very good look at the planning documents online and then write down my comments for the Council. Consultation end time is 5 December 12 midday.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Draft Winchester District Local Plan Part 2 available to view

The meeting agenda for the Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 September has been published.

Here is a short guide to some of the information from the presented documents (this guide is by no means meant to be complete):

The information about what the Council are aspiring to do in Abbotts Barton is in Chapter 3 (170KB), here is a quote:

3.7.18 The Framework identifies sites for up to 50 new affordable houses to help meet the shortage of affordable housing in the area, although only around 37 are likely to be delivered in the short to medium term. These include; about 12 dwellings at Hillier Way; about 9 dwellings at Dyson Drive; 4 dwellings at Hussey Close; 4 dwellings at Austen Close; and around 8 dwellings at the south eastern end of Charles Close.

3.7.19 The Planning Framework took into account feedback from the two consultation events held in October and December 2012, as well as various studies undertaken in the area including topographical, environmental, and historical surveys.

3.7.20 Due to a number of responses which suggested that new housing might be provided behind the car park near to the football club, a Planning Report was prepared by an external Planning Consultant to assess whether this area was suitable for housing development. The conclusions were that there are strong and compelling reasons for not developing this site for housing. These relate to the physical and social separation from the existing housing areas to which any future development should connect, the loss of an important and unique open space which has significant value for the contribution its makes to a larger green area, including its value to the setting of the adjoining National Park. However, the potential to improve this open space which might include some form of community facility will be considered.

3.7.21 The Council will continue to work with the community to translate the Planning Framework into a detailed strategy and to develop a Community Plan to help articulate and achieve the community’s aspirations. This will include developing a Community Letting Plan for the new homes which will give priority to local people who need affordable housing, and a review of Council garage usage to improve their benefit to the local community.

3.7.22 The Council will also investigate measures to ensure that the values captured from the developments are reinvested in the local area In particular it will ensure that adjacent scrubland is reclaimed for the benefit of the local community, and compensates for green space lost through development.
There is a general map of the area in Policies Map 6 (4.8MB, page 6) but it does not show much detail. The explanation for the markings can be found in Policies Map 1 (2.9MB, page 4). You can see that the Abbotts Barton park and the green at Dyson Drive are all marked as Protected Areas (referenced to "Policy DM5"). There was no explanation for Policy DM5 but it says "Development Management policies to be added" in Appendices A-E, so this might be the missing information.

Also interesting: Appendix 3 (1,9MB, page 42) shows the open space details for St Bartholomew Ward.

For details some of the PDF documents are linking through to the Local Plan Part 2 - Development Management & Allocations pages on the Council's website, and when you click your way through (via Winchester Town) to Abbotts Barton you get to see the very same documents from February 2013 that the Abbotts Barton Community Group had linked to in their post about the LDF:

Abbotts Barton Planning Framework part 1 (PDF, 24.7 MB) version from February 2013
Abbotts Barton Planning Framework part 2 (PDF, 22.4 MB) version from February 2013

So it looks like these plans are still what the Council is going to use going forward.