A MAJOR Winchester organisation has said changes to a city regeneration projects do not go far enough.

The City of Winchester Trust (CWT), which works to protect the city’s heritage and culture, issued the comments after cabinet member for local economy Cllr Anne Weir outlined changes to the height of the Station Approach scheme, as well as plans to reduce the amount of planned parking by more than a quarter.

It came ahead of last night’s scrutiny committee meeting, which saw the changes being discussed as the Chronicle went to press.

As previously reported, the changes will see nearly 30 per cent fewer parking spaces on the site than originally planned, as well as a slight reduction in height, a factor which caused the collapse of the original Station Approach project several years ago.

Hampshire Chronicle:

It follows a review being carried out by the Liberal Democrats into the previously Conservative-led major schemes (Station Approach, Silver Hill 2 and the leisure centre) after seizing control of the council in May’s local elections.

Commenting on the changes, CWT chairman Keith Leaman said: “On the parking issue, the trust believes that there should be no car parking provided on this site. In such a sustainable location next to the railway station, close to the city centre and within walking and cycling distance of residential areas, the council should be leading by example.

“On the one hand the city council is supporting more park and ride sites and measures to encourage more sustainable ways of getting to work, yet on the other hand it is actively promoting employee car parking on its own city development site.

“On the question of height and bulk, both Historic England, the South Downs National Park authority, the City of Winchester Trust and many others consider that both the overall scale and height of the offices is too great and will have an adverse affect on the character of the townscape and conservation area and the setting of the city.

Hampshire Chronicle:

“The amount of office floor space being proposed is significantly in excess of the figure set out in the design brief for Station Approach development.

“The trust urges the new administration to instruct officers to secure further changes to the Carfax proposal before the application is approved and before the site is sold off to a developer. This is the only way to prevent a development which is unsustainable and too large.”

Responding to the criticism, Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, said: “The plans for Station Approach have been reviewed and we have listened closely to people’s views on the height of the building and the parking provision.

“Both the height and the maximum parking numbers have been reduced as we aim to create an iconic, sustainable development that supports the city’s low carbon future.”

Speaking to the Chronicle last week when she announced the changes, Cllr Anne Weir, cabinet member for local economy, said the administration was looking at the scheme with its ‘carbon neutral district’ pledge, and hoped that developers would look to reduce the number of parking spaces further.

Hampshire Chronicle:

When asked whether the reduced number of spaces would impact the ability to attract tenants, city council strategic director Chas Bradfield remained positive.

He said: “The sort of developers we are interested in are in the regional market. There’s considerable interest in a development with less parking.”

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 it will provide an £81million boost to the local economy and create 1,000 jobs.

The planning application is expected to go before a city council planning committee in either September or October.

  • What do you think of the Station Approach plans? Write to letters@hampshirechronicle.co.uk.