AS reported in the Chronicle on July 13, the Development was savaged by local citizens in a public meeting. Of all the failings of the masterplan the most significant is that there is no evidence of any need for it. The only rationale for this development is that it follows the designation of Bushfield as an ‘employment site’ in the Local Plan (2013). However, the city council’s own planning policy (WT3) states that the development of Bushfield is to meet ‘future, currently unidentified, needs.’ The emerging local plan goes further and suggests ‘mixed-use high-quality business and employment space, an innovation hub and creative industries’ on the site but with no evidence whatsoever to support such a proposal and this draft policy has not been subject to formal public examination. This appears to be retrofitting Council policy to suit the developer’s masterplan. It is a mystery why the cabinet should collude with a masterplan which directly conflicts with the council’s own planning policy (DM23) on development outside defined settlement boundaries.

What is needed is a thorough, independent economic development needs assessment because there is currently no indication that Winchester needs to develop this site for employment use. There is no need for office space and there is an abundance of brownfield sites in the city. This speculative development, intended solely to generate capital for the Church Commissioners who own the land, provides no solution to any identified local need. Furthermore, it would create problems especially in terms of transport congestion, damage to our ecology and harm to the landscape.

The scale of the development has insidiously been increased from a modest scheme to a massive overdevelopment with four-storey buildings, hotel, retail, student accommodation and sports facilities emerging from initially modest proposals.

The consultation process has disguised the scale of this purely speculative development. The Council has now prevented the full Council from even questioning its decision by cancelling the Council meeting programmed for July 13 and stopped concerned residents from questioning the Cabinet’s decision and presenting their petition. 


Steve Turner and Ali Cochrane

Winchester Labour Party

Sleepers Hill