MORE than 100 people have signed a letter to the Hampshire Chronicle demanding a thorough rethink of the Barton Farm development.
Although the scheme for 2,000 homes on farmland to the north of the city has outline planning permission, the signatories argue there is still time to influence important details.
The unprecedented letter says current plans for Barton Farm are flawed and that Cala Homes needs to be persuaded to build a development that is better integrated with the rest of the city.
Signatories include retired architect Kate Macintosh, Rupert Cook, director of Architecture plb, former city councillors Jock Macdonald, Judith Martin, Karen Barratt and John Higgins, Hyde 900 founder Edward Fennell, transport consultant Mike Slinn and environmental campaigner Chris Gillham – along with local councillors, architects, writers, scientists, artists and business people.
One signatory, city councillor Robert Hutchison, said: “People recognise Barton Farm is going to be built, but there is widespread public concern that it is not going to be as good as it might be. The time to think about the overall quality and design is now.”
He added: “The 110 or so names are the tip of an iceberg. We could have got hundreds more.”
The city council is about to set up a Barton Farm Development Forum to help Cala Homes prepare its detailed plans expected later this year.
In addition a meeting has been arranged for next Wednesday, January 16, between members of the 2020 Group - a joint initiative of Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) and the City of Winchester Trust – and Cala to discuss next steps.
Transport campaigner Mike Slinn contends current plans do not provide a satisfactory route for cyclists and pedestrians between Barton Farm and the city centre. The plan involves diverting traffic from Andover Road through the development and Mr Slinn predicts this will cause conflict and greater risk of injury for residents.
He says residents will be deterred from walking and cycling and encouraged to travel by car, worsening congestion and pollution.
Cala originally planned to keep Andover Road but amended the scheme to divert the road into the new estate after public consultation.
Changing the Andover Road diversion is highly unlikely as it is part of the outline planning permission and altering it would involve another planning application.
Mike Emett, Cala land director, said: “The road is one of the matters that has been fixed. The city council is full-square behind proposals for diverting traffic through on a new road. It would require a new planning application. That is not on our agenda.
“We are aware the road issue has given rise to discussion and strong views for and against,” he added.
“We welcome dialogue and are happy to hear what people have to say. We are pleased attention is turning to detail rather than the principle.
“I pretty much agree with what is in the letter. Cala also want to produce a fantastic development that everyone can be proud of, we want to produce something for the community, the city, everyone, so we can say ‘what a fantastic developer Cala is.’ We do not want to miss this opportunity.”
Cala has also organised a public consultation for the Guildhall on Thursday, January 31, from midday to 7pm.