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.

Friday, 12 September 2014

News about council house development plans for Abbotts Barton

Have you seen the latest post about the Local Development Framework part 2 briefing on the Abbotts Barton Community Group website? Please read: Abbotts Barton housing development plans almost back to square one!

It seems the Council Leader's announcement from 11 September 2013 is worth nothing after only one year: "Councillor Wood stated that when more funds became available from 2016 onwards, schemes in Westman Road, Weeke; Wilberforce Close and Somers Close, Stanmore; and Hillier Way and two garage sites at Chaundlers Road and Hussey Close, Abbotts Barton would be developed. He stated that there were no plans to develop Dyson Drive or Charles Close in Abbotts Barton in the foreseeable future."

It is good news that the main stretch along Charles Close seems to have been removed from new development plans as the community made it very clear that it would not like houses there at all. And WCC promised in today's press release that "plans also feature improved open space, recreation and community facilities, possibly including a new community building on waste land at the bottom of Hillier Way."

The land surrounding the Symonds Court buildings at Hillier Way is still the priority number one for the Council to build on.

However, instead of the two garage sites there is talk again about building on Dyson Drive green (despite a yet to be decided village green application) and (at least only) at the very end of Charles Close. Colbourne Court has been dismissed due to problems with ownership, and the garage sites have been described as too difficult to deal with. While all of us can have different opinions on whether there should be houses on any of these areas, it is undeniable that there seems to be something like a U-turn here!

There will be a consultation stage again - we are hoping that Abbotts Barton's residents will attend in even bigger numbers this time and use this opportunity again to have their say!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Have your say - Winchester City Council is developing its Local Plan Part 2

For the St Bartholomew Ward there will be a meeting on Saturday 1 March at 1 pm, at Winchester Discovery Centre (drop-in session). 

Winchester City Council issued this information (and more) on 11 February via a press release "Planning for the future of Winchester town":

"Winchester City Council is developing its Local Plan Part 2, which will include detailed planning policies for the next 15-20 years.
The Council is launching a series of events to discuss future planning issues which will be open to anyone interested in the future of the city.
The purpose of the events is to set out the planning issues currently facing Winchester town and to give people opportunity to discuss these.
Officers will give an update on the current planning situation in the local area and outline the next steps in preparing the Local Plan Part 2. This will provide an opportunity to discuss local needs and future planning issues in the area, particularly those that can be addressed through the Local Plan."

There is also a link to a Winchester Town page (within the framework of the Local plan pages) which has links to these documents:

Assessment of Windfall Trends and Potential in Winchester
Open Space Assessment

The second document underlines the lack of open space in regards to "Equipped Children’s and Young People’s Play Space", "Informal Green Space", and "Parks and Recreation Grounds" that we have been talking about all of last year. At the same time the document states that there are sufficient "Sports Grounds" - however the areas that are listed are quite different in regards to how they are available to the public (just compare North Walls Recreation Ground with a school playing field).

If you are interested at all in the Council's plans for Winchester please consider going to the meeting on 1 March!