DOZENS of people have objected to plans for Winchester’s largest development, including the City of Winchester Trust and the son of a former Winchester MP.

It comes as the window closed for comments on the application for the city council’s Station Approach project.

The scheme, estimated to cost £159m, is set transform the area around the railway station, creating 140,000 square feet of Grade A office space, along with a further 17,000 sq ft of retail, cafe and restaurant space.

Civic chiefs estimate the scheme will provide an £81million boost to the local economy and create 1,000 jobs.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Despite getting approval, from councillors for the project’s outline business case, the planning application – which needs to be approved before building work can take place – has generated more than 40 objections.

Among those to write to city council planners is Rodney Mogan-Giles, the son of former Conservative Winchester MP Morgan Morgan-Giles. He wrote: “I think the buildings proposed are ugly and will form a disastrous introduction to the historic City of Winchester.

“They seem unsympathetic to neighbouring buildings and no different from the standard flat-roofed office blocks that have disfigured so many town centres and are now totally discredited.

“Rather, Winchester should look for inspiration to architecture that has successfully transformed new developments such as in Dorchester.”

The City of Winchester Trust also objected, and said in its letter to planners: “Given the location next to the railway station and the proximity of the Tower Street and Cattle Market car parks, the number of parking spaces is difficult to justify.

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“It is claimed that this will represent a slight reduction over the number of spaces currently provided on this site, but that seems to ignore the role that the existing capacity plays in matters relating to management of traffic flow around the station.”The trust added: “As proposed, the development is contrary to adopted policies such as LPP 2 with its desire ‘to protect and enhance the special character of Winchester’... [We] to the contrary feel that the impact will be negative.”

Many of the other objections follow the same theme, despite the project being smaller in scale than its predecessor.

As previously reported, this is the council’s second attempt to redevelop the Carfax site and Station Approach areas after a previous scheme was scuppered in 2016. City councillors killed it off because they considered its bulk and height too great.

The scheme had been progressed by a Conservative administration, but the planning application will now be decided under the Liberal Democrats after they seized control in the recent elections.

New council leader, Cllr Lucille Thompson, has vowed to carry out a review of the council’s major projects, but it is not yet known how that will impact Station Approach.

Hampshire Chronicle:

The plans have attract some support from business organisations, with the Winchester Business Improvement District (BID), Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and city council Economic Development Service writing to planners.

BID executive director Paul Spencer wrote: “There is a clear demand for more high quality office space in Winchester and seeing this development progress to the next stage will send positive signals to the business community.”

As the application has been submitted by the city council, it will need to go before a planning committee for a decision later this summer.