A PLAN for a Winchester office proposes to turn back the clock more than 100 years.

Southampton University has applied to convert offices in the West Wing of Winchester Guildhall into teaching space for postgraduate fashion students at the School of Art.

The building was originally built in late Victorian times as the base for the city's School of Art. The university proposes the conversion of four storeys of of the Grade II listed civic offices that have largely been redundant since the Covid pandemic in 2020. Most council staff are now working flexibly from home so there is less need for office space.

The agents for the university, Montagu Evans, said in the application to the city council: "The principle of the proposed change of use of the building from office to educational use for the occupation of the Winchester School of Art is entirely appropriate given this was the use for which the extension was originally constructed in 1892-1893 by local architect JB Colson.

READ MORE: Stardust Years to close as Winchester's only vintage clothing store sees drop in footfall

"The ornate Gothic revival exterior is a key element of the significance of the building. There are no external alterations proposed with this package of works and so the architecturally significant elevation and its important contribution to the Conservation Area will remain unaffected. The significant and positive contribution made by the building therefore will be preserved."

The only objection has come from preservation watchdogs the City of Winchester Trust, which stated: "This is extremely expensive for what is little more than redecoration - though not much. It could have been achieved by a simpler and much cheaper process. We therefore object to the application."

Hampshire Chronicle: The 1893 entrance to Winchester School of Art off the Broadway

The Guildhall was built in the period 1871-1875. The West Wing is more modern and originally housed the Library and art school, which has its entrance off The Broadway, with its name still engraved into the stonework.

The West Wing building was built with many large windows to facilitate students' drawing and painting.

The application states: "The University of Southampton are intending to lease the West Wing from WCC to form additional teaching space for masters students signed up to WSA’s fashion degree course. The proposals will bring the redundant office space back into use, providing a sustainable way of expanding WSA’s teaching facilities in a sustainable location that is within walking distance of the main campus (on Park Avenue).

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.