PARISH chiefs have voiced public concerns about major plans for the redevelopment of a former military base near Winchester.

The landowner of Bushfield Camp, along with developers, are drawing up plans for part of the site with proposals to include a business park, student accommodation/hotel.

Badger Farm Parish Council has written to senior city councillor Jackie Porter to highlight public disquiet over the emerging plans. A planning application is expected in the autumn.

The letter from parish council clerk Christine Howse raises a number of issues.

READ MORE HERE: Developer pulls out of public meeting to discuss Bushfield Camp plans

She said: "As you may be aware, residents in the Badger Farm area have expressed a number of concerns regarding the development which is currently proposed by LGIM and Gisborne, in partnership with the Church Commissioners.

"We write following our June Parish Council Meeting at which the subject of the proposed development prompted an unprecedented level of attendance by residents.

"While representatives from the developers were scheduled to attend the meeting in person to present proposals and to address residents’ queries and concerns, they unfortunately had to cancel at short notice.  Despite this, over 30 residents (primarily from within Badger Farm, but with some from the wider local area) were in attendance and they shared a number of significant concerns regarding the current plans.  It appears to the Parish Council that the majority of residents are opposed to the current proposals (although a number are in favour of development in principle and many accept that it is inevitable.)

SEE MORE: Public concerns set to be raised at parish council meeting

We have summarised the key issues raised below.  Many of these concerns are also shared by the members of the Parish Council.  (We will also be sending a copy of this letter to our local City Councillors, the developers and to the Hampshire County Council Highways department.)

1. Traffic volumes and road access: The primary concern that was raised by the majority of the residents in attendance (including both those in favour of development in principle and those against it) was the impact the proposed development would have on traffic travelling along Badger Farm Road.  This is a key transport route between the M3 and Winchester city centre and is already at capacity at peak commuting times with significant delays travelling into and out of Winchester.  The proposal of a site which is designed to accommodate in excess of 3,000 people and with 900 parking spaces will add a significant strain regardless of how road access to the site is managed.  This is in the context of a post-covid environment where less people are currently commuting to work.  Some residents are concerned that if more office workers return to their offices that strain will be magnified. While crossings may address the safety issues around access to the site, there are concerns that the introduction of two light controlled crossing points (as currently featured in the proposals), could add to the traffic delays and congestion. Residents also expressed concerns about the impact of potential delays on blue light emergency services for whom this is a key route and that this could cause serious safety issues. It was also noted that Badger Farm Road is a key diversion route when there are issues with the M3 and the A34. Increased traffic and delays are also likely to have an impact on buses traveling in and out of Winchester and will therefore cause delays for those using the public transport provision which is already felt to be very limited on the South side of Winchester. While the developers say in their current revised plans that the intention is to encourage people to use public transport/walk/cycle to the site, there are no specific plans for how any public transport provision would be increased to accommodate the additional people who need to travel to this site.  The plans at present mention ‘potentially extended connections to public transport’ with no detail of what these will entail or how they will be financed.

  1. Parking: The current proposals envisage parking on site for approximately 900 vehicles. While it may be the developers’ aspiration that people will car-share, walk, cycle and take public transport, it seems unlikely that these modes of transport will encompass over two thirds of those travelling to an out of town location. It is therefore reasonable to estimate that of the 2,000 additional people who will need to access the site, a very large number of these people will chose to drive, but will not be able to park.

The issue of parking is therefore key. The proposals suggest that people could use the South Park and Ride, however, the Parish Council understands that this is already at approximately 70% capacity.

Residents also fear that users of the new site will inevitably seek out free street parking nearby which will result in vehicles being parked in the Badger Farm residential area. (This is already an issue with commuters working in Winchester city centre using Badger Farm for free parking.) Residents have expressed that they do not want to see the introduction of permit parking or other parking restrictions, however, it seems likely this will be necessary if the site proceeds as planned. This will significantly alter the character and utility of Badger Farm and adversely impact the lives of its residents.

  1. Loss of habitat and biodiversity and sustainability concerns: Bushfield Camp is a valuable habitat for a large number of wildflowers, insects, mammals and birds. It also serves as a wildlife corridor between St. Cross and Compton and beyond and is recognised by W.C.C. as being in a “sensitive location, forming part of the Winchester- Compton Street Local Gap” (See Winchester District Local Plan: Development Allocations 12.40). The current proposals from the developers suggest that the site will be ‘creating a green link’, however, residents pointed out this green link already exists and that it is going to be damaged and undermined by the proposals rather than being created. Any development is undoubtedly going to disturb and reduce the natural environment and it is critical that suitable biodiversity studies are undertaken and that any negative impact is mitigated. Residents didn’t feel sufficient information had been shared in this regard.

There were a small number of residents present who believed on principle that the site should be left as a wild site due to the habitat and biodiversity benefits it brings to the local area. Some pointed out that the site had been unoccupied for over 50 years and had therefore, effectively re-wilded of its own accord. They questioned whether it is accurate to describe the areas other than the parade ground and buildings as a brownfield site.

Most residents in attendance at our meeting accepted that some kind of development is inevitable and indeed some viewed it as desirable, but many said that this should be on the condition that it is sympathetic to the local environment, causes minimal damage to biodiversity and habitat and that it is sustainable. Residents also noted the potential for increased light pollution that would be caused by development.

Some residents also expressed concerns about the adjoining land. The current proposals suggest that Bushfield Down (to the north of the development site) will be left as wild space, albeit with a surfaced cycle/footpath added through its centre. Despite requests, no assurances have been given as to how future development of this land will be prevented. Residents asked for details of who would own this land after the development was completed and how it would be protected from future development. Questions were also raised about the adjoining land to the west of the site which is owned by Hampshire County Council. There were fears that the proposed development could be a precursor the surrounding land being developed as part of a wider scheme.

4. Suitability of proposed use: The site was allocated in the 2013 Winchester District Local plan (Policy WT3) as an ‘employment site’ and has since been included in the Regulation 18 Local Plan - Winchester Town Development Allocations as ‘high quality flexible business and employment space, an innovation/education hub and creative industries’, however, a number of the proposed buildings do not seem to fit within this description, most obviously the proposed student accommodation block and the hotel. A number of residents were particularly opposed to these aspects of the proposal.

In relation to the student accommodation block, residents expressed concerns that the site is remote from the main university campus and from the city centre and will involve students having to walk (potentially late at night) through the residential area of Badger Farm as well as on potentially dangerous remote footpaths. They were concerned about both the potential of anti-social behaviour and also the safety of the students. It was also suggested that there are empty sites in the centre of Winchester that would be much better suited to the construction of student accommodation.

Having a large number of students living on the site will also increase the demand for local services including the doctors’ surgery in Badger Farm. There doesn’t appear to be any provision at present to address this.

5. Visual impact on local landscape and the height of buildings


Many residents were concerned about the increased height of the buildings in the proposed development, as set out at the most recent engagement events in May 2023. We note that there are no details of the elevations of buildings on the site on the developers’ website. )

At present, the proposals include buildings up to 4 storeys high. It was noted at the meeting that the former miliary building which is still on site is approximately 2 storeys high, so the proposed building/s would stand at twice this height - a significant increase in terms of anything that has previously been at the site and significantly larger than anything currently on the southern side of Winchester.  The Development Allocations document specifically notes at 12.41 that “Prominent highly visible structures would likely be visually distracting and unsympathetic, especially as they could draw attention from the assets of effect the skyline” and section ix of the Policy W5 stipulates that there must be consideration for the “Winchester -Compton Street settlement gap and views from and to Winchester in terms of the height, view corridors and the scale, madding and appearance of buildings. . . .” One resident suggest that a proper impact assessment should include a mast or similar temporary structure being erected at the height of the proposed buildings to give an accurate reflection of the visibility of the new structures.

  1. Lack of local community benefit: As stated above, a number of residents were in favour of the site being developed and many said they could support a proposal which had a benefit for the local community. However, a lot of residents were concerned that there didn’t appear to be any current benefit for the residents of Badger Farm. 12.48 of the Winchester Town Development Allocations document stipulates that “Any plans for the redevelopment of the site should demonstrate how they help realise the Vision for Winchester and aims for the wider district”.  It was unclear to residents how the current proposals addressed this issue or how they address the needs of the local area.


  1. Other concerns raised by residents: A number of residents raised concerns about the changing nature of the developers’ plans and what was described by a number of attendees as “scope creep” in relation to the planned use of the site. They felt that the plans are not being presented in an honest and straightforward way and that when they had raised questions at the previous public consultation sessions they had not been clearly answered. Some were cynical about the consultation process and questioned whether it was being done to meet a planning requirement rather than as a genuine attempt to address their concerns.

One resident noted that the site is of significant historic interest and it is not clear what, if any archaeological or historic surveys have been conducted on the site (as per the requirement in section xi. of Policy W5).

Mrs Howe concluded: "We should be grateful if you would consider the serious issues raised in this letter and we welcome further engagement between Winchester City Council and the Parish Council on this proposal. We hope to re-schedule the developers’ presentation to our residents and we will continue to seek to ensure their views are heard on this very important issue for our local community."

In a statement the developers said: “We welcome the detailed and informed comments from Badger Farm Parish Council and look forward to addressing the points they have raised. We have offered a full technical team presentation and await to hear from them. This will be in addition to the very recent public consultation event we hosted on 20 May at the Badger Farm Community Centre.

"We take our relationship with the Parish Councils and the residents they represent very seriously and look forward to a continuing dialogue throughout the development process.”