A SURVEY on plans for a new care home in the heart of Winchester has been branded a “whitewash”.
Winchester City Council is eyeing the Chesil Street surface car park for development and central government has already earmarked cash for the project.
Civic chiefs recently consulted residents on the proposal, with 243 questionnaires completed, from 1,200 letters sent out.
On Tuesday (Mar 18) dozens of residents were at the Guildhall to hear feedback from the survey, which was conducted by architects and design consultants, John Thompson & Partners.
Many were angry at what they believe to be a lack of consideration given to alternative sites and officers’ claims that the car park is underused.
They were also unhappy at suggestions the nearby Chesil Street multi-story car park could compensate for any loss of parking spaces.
Catherine Kelsey, 50, a garden designer, of Chesil Street, said: “It doesn’t feel like a consultation at all – it feels like a whitewash and fait au complit.
“I’m sceptical about the timing of this. I think they want to shove a spade in the ground somewhere quickly to get the money.”
The meeting heard that by 2030, the number over-75s in Winchester looks set to increase by 85 per cent. In response, the council has pledged to boost its provision for ‘extra care’ by 20 to 25 extra places per 1,000 of the over-75s population.
Figures also suggest that in the St John, All Saints, St Michaels and St Bartholomew wards, around 11 per cent of the population is over 75.
Liz Cooper, chair of the St Giles Hill residents association, said: “I think really one has to consider whether this is actually the best site for such a building. This is a very congested site, bound on three sides by roads. I would not think this is the safest and most easily accessible site for the elderly.”
Cllr Robert Sanders was at the feedback presentation and attended a recent residents meeting on the matter.
“I think the strong reaction is simply because the plans have come out before the public consultation took place,” he said.
Cllr Rob Humby, also at the meeting, said: “I think anything you try to do in Winchester creates a lot of interest. My purpose of coming here was to listen to residents - no decision has been made.”