WINCHESTER City Council has been warned it could be taken to court after plans for a new multi-storey were approved.

Campaigners had begged chiefs to change their mind over a new 287-space car park on the former Vaultex site in Barfield Close.

They said the structure, which will stand 15 metres above Domum Road, will negatively impact the environment, residents and a South Downs National Park walkway.

But at a planning committee on April 22, seven councillors voted to approve the proposals, whilst one abstained.

On behalf of Domum Road residents, Ian Ford said: "The council has completely failed to recognise the off-site implications of the proposals and leave themselves open to a legal challenge.

"The car park would see an 800 per cent increase in vehicle movement in the are, and we feel the council has failed to notice the operational impact of cars moving around an open sided building.

"No reports consider the impact headlight pollution – blasting into neighbour's bedrooms, illuminating the national park and bat roosts.

"Many nearby trees have been confirmed as habitat for bats, and bats can't fly in light over one lumen. The average car headlight outputs around 1,500 lumens. This is potential crime against wildlife."

James Miller, representing Extinction Rebellion Winchester, Winchester Action on Climate Change and Friends of the Earth said the council would be "hypocritical" to approve the plans.

"To say that a park and ride is a priority in action against climate change is simply a completely illogical statement and a complete misunderstanding of what is meant by a climate emergency.

"A park and ride does not reduce carbon emissions and it is well understood that it does the opposite. It increases care use rather than embed the idea of public transport.

"The council objected over the plans to expand Southampton Airport due to carbon emissions, so it would be hypocritical to build another car park in the city."

Ward councillor Fiona Mather also said she objects the plans at the committee.

But Cllr Martin Tod, cabinet lead for service quality and transformation, justified the need for the car park.

He said: "Our officers who we trust very much say that these plans are in line with the Movement Strategy. It's important that we think about producing ideas to improve air quality in the city centre, we have the objective of getting people to visit and use our city centre so it can continue to thrive, but there is no view in the strategy that doesn't include people from outside the city from coming to work, shop and enjoy the city.

"I'm personally very committed to getting people to walk, cycle and use public transport, but I do not see a future where those people from the greater district won't come in personal vehicles."

  • Last week the Chronicle used an image to show how the multi-storey would look from the Itchen Navigation. The caption attributed this to Winchester City Council, but it was in fact produce by those opposing the plans.

Cllr Tod also shared a presentation to show how high the park and ride will stand over Domum Road. He said that it will not appear as high as the former Vaultex building did as the council has worked to set it further back.

The multi-storey will feature green walls to offset carbon output in the area, as well as screens to limit light pollution from car headlights.

Cllr David McLean also said the car park should be locked up when closed to prevent anti-social behaviour and toilets should be included in the plans to ensure the site does not turn into a "pit".