WINCHESTER needs to think hard about the best places for new housing, according to civic campaigners.

The Winchester 2020 partnership has told the city council: “Don’t just look at where to fit new homes in – think about what sort of place we want Winchester to be.”

Winchester 2020 is a union between the City of Winchester Trust and Winchester Action on Climate Change.

The city council is asking people for their views about planning issues as it develops the Local Plan Part 2, the blueprint for the next 20 years.

Barton Farm, the new 2,000-home estate is set to be built in the next decade easing the immediate pressure for new sites. There is pressure on places such as Bushfield Camp and Pitt with the granting of permission for 200 homes at Pitt Manor.

Michael Carden, of Winchester 2020, said: “We aren’t arguing against new homes being built. We are saying: let’s build new homes in the best possible locations for the future of Winchester. We want Winchester town to continue to be a great place in which to live, work or visit, to grow up or grow old, and to enjoy ourselves. In other words our vision is a sustainable Winchester.”

The trust hopes to persuade the council that they should consider the bigger picture. Before it chooses sites for new homes, it needs to think about their implications:
•         Will they mean even more traffic, or can people walk and cycle into town?
•         Which sites are closest to shops, leisure, work and public transport?
•         Which are realistic for developers, and will allow for four in 10 new homes to be “affordable”?
•         Which can provide open spaces?

Mr Carden warned against simply squeezing new homes into gaps and called for a public debate.

“The starting point isn’t where we can fit in enough homes. It isn’t whether we build in the existing settlement area or outside. The starting point is: where do we build new homes to make Winchester an even better city?”

People can comment through the council website by April 4, or by going to meetings aimed at each of the Winchester wards and parishes that form the built-up area of Winchester.

The next is Thursday, March 13 at All Saints Church Hall, Petersfield Road, Highcliffe with a drop-in session from 6pm followed by presentation at 7pm focussing on St John and All Saints Ward, that covers Highcliffe, Bar End and Winnall.

City Council 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.

The Council’s Local Plan Part 1, adopted in 2013, establishes the planning strategy for Winchester, including housing targets for the next 20 years, together with a requirement for sufficient land available to meet economic and retail needs.