A WINCHESTER housing charity has revealed major plans for expansion in the city centre.


The St Johns Winchester Charity intends to build 31 new homes for elderly people on Colebrook Street and Chesil Street and 20 of its existing stock of homes will be refurbished.


It is consulting current residents and explaining its plans which it says are at an early stage.



The charity aims to encourage what it calls ‘younger older people’ aged between 60 and 75 to take up residence in some of the upper floors of its almshouses which older residents find more challenging.


The Chesil Street site is behind the Chesil Theatre and the charity is going through the process of selling land for a theatre extension. The charity is collaborating with the theatre on the project.


St John’s operates several sites in the city centre with 24 units at St John’s North, 27 at St John’s South and 25 at Mary Magdalen off Colebrook Street and the dementia unit, Moorside.


One property that is significant for Winchester’s history is St John's House on The Broadway and the charity is looking at reusing the building either commercially or culturally, but has yet to decide. The YMCA cafe on the ground floor closed in January.


Clive Cook, the director of the charity, outlined plans to the Central Winchester Regeneration Group on Tuesday. He told the Chronicle after the meeting: “It’s an old iconic building that did have a social purpose. It was where people met in the town for centuries. Some of the big paintings that hang in the Guildhall once hung at St John's House. It was the focal point for the city from medieval times to the 18th century. But it has a grade one listed interior and it will be a challenge to adapt it.”


He added: “We feel that there should be a cultural aspect to regeneration and we think it could be a focus or hub for all sorts such as music, dance, drama, literary or heritage groups.”


Earlier this year the charity sold De Lunn Buildings on Jewry Street in order to use the funds for the charity.


Mr Cook told the meeting that the charity had yet to decide what to do with the decommissioned care home Devenish House, on Southgate Street.


The future of Devenish House is unclear. Possible uses include offices, a hotel or upmarket flats.


St John's will be doing more work in the community, relieving loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly.


It is one of the oldest charitable institutions in the country. The precise date of its foundation is uncertain and although historians used to refer to this as 1289, it is now believed that its origins are much earlier and it may have been founded by St. Brinstan, Bishop of Winchester from 931 to 934.