WinACC joined with the BID, the City of Winchester Trust and the University of Winchester to organise a participative day conference "Winchester: Thinking Ahead" on 21 July 2016  to share ideas and develop consensus about the future of the town centre. 

Summary of main points

Winchester will inevitably change – to manage it, we need to address:

  • Movement – i.e. how people move about the city, including walking, cycling, public transport, traffic congestion as well as cars and other vehicles
  • Shortage of housing especially housing that people can afford
  • Inequalities of wealth, and creating a more inclusive society
  • Shortage of large, open-plan offices
  • Hitting the carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050 (or even setting our own, 100% by 2050)

Many argued that 

we need to improve our processes for making decisions about the future development of the town. This included:

  • Leadership - which might be from the equivalent of a mayor who is a “benevolent dictator” willing to take risks, or from the Council leader, or from an appointed “Futures Group” of community representatives
  • Setting a vision that isn’t just a list of everything – making hard decisions between competing public wishes
  • Having a cohere
    nt overview (“framework”., “master plan” or “strategy”) that’s more detailed than a vision and more accessible than the Local Plan, and that covers both movement and the built environment
  • There were many calls for a coherent plan for movement, including walking, cycling, public transport, and motor vehicles
  • Having pilots and experiments that last a day or a year and are evaluated before deciding whether to continue …
  • ... rather than trying to tackle everything at once in one comprehensive development
  • Learning from other places, both abroad and in the UK (e.g. Holland)
  • Engaging people rather than consulting them – getting them involved from the start
  • Consulting with more people, not just the usual interest groups
  • Taking advantage of the goodwill and expertise of professionals and returned professionals living in Winchester
  • Better communication from the local authorities
  • Better collaboration between HCC and WCC, especially on transport

 People appreciated these aspects of Winchester:

  • History / heritage
  • Size – because it is walkable, easy to get out of, and small enough to be friendly (and meet people by chance)
  • Friendliness and safety – low crime rates, it feels safe on the streets
  • Trees, water, nature, wildlife
  • Good trains to London

Improvements that people would like to see included:

  • Better bus services
  • More green open spaces
  • More public social spaces
  • An emphasis on small independent shops

Download this summary

See also:

Also attached are:

  • the programme
  • speaker CVs
  • participant list
  • summary of feedback forms.

The conference was opened by Cllr Stephen Godfrey, and chaired by Martin Willey, former president of the Royal Institute of Town Planning.

It was hosted by the BID, the City of Winchester Trust, the University of Winchester and Winchester Action on Climate Change.

Each host contributed to the cost. Thanks also for additional financial support from Hampshire County Councillors Fiona Mather and Martin Tod, and Winchester City Council's Winchester Town Forum.