We can use the demand for extra housing to improve Winchester city if we look for areas that need improving, and locate attractive new housing and small business spaces in those parts of our city. This was the message of a meeting of over fifty local residents who came to a stimulating presentation suggesting how housing can be built within the city without spoiling its character at a joint open meeting on Saturday, 6 August organised by Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) and the City of Winchester Trust.

Local architects Paul Bulkeley of Snug Projects, David Ashe of C H Designs and Rupert Cook of architecture plb had put their heads together to produce an exciting and innovative demonstration of how elegant taller buildings could be fitted onto low-lying land without spoiling the city’s skyline or its character.

Download an informal record of the discussion.

People at the meeting greeted Paul’s presentation with enthusiasm. They broadly supported the ideas put forward, in particular the mix of employment and housing, the idea of new offices close to the station, and the suggestion of new housing within walking distance of the city centre at higher densities than Winchester City Council is proposing in its “Plans for Places”. Current planning officer thinking is to aim for 40 dwellings per hectare. The meeting heard that some acclaimed developments in other cities are much higher density, even up to 100 or more. Written feedback after the meeting showed that many people were willing to consider higher density as part of a mix of different types of housing, shops, offices, and workplaces.

“We want a city where people can live, work and enjoy themselves without being forced to drive”, said Chris Holloway, Director of WinACC. The meeting strongly supported the suggestion that if Barton Farm does go ahead, the Council and developers should see it as an opportunity to create an exemplar low carbon, attractive place to live, with open space, local facilities, low carbon housing, and frequent public transport into town.

Councillor Brian Collin, Chair of Winchester Town Forum, is leading the Town Forum as they update their vision of Winchester. He took the opportunity to describe his ideas, as well as listening to the views of the meeting.

Michael Carden, a vice-chairman of the City of Winchester Trust, said: “We were delighted that such innovative, blue sky thinking was so well received. Winchester is a unique city with a unique landscape setting. Thanks to the imagination of the group of architects, we now have some fresh thinking about how we can keep it this way and still create extra housing.”

Here is Snug Project's blog photo named 'the Barend masterplan'  (http://www.snugarchitects.co.uk/blog/)