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Pressure remains relentless for development in Winchester
12:19pm Monday 31st December 2012 in News
The plan indicates the land that the city council is considering for potential development over the next 20 years.
Called the Strategic Housing Land Availability (SHLAA) it is a database of sites whose owners have asked planners to earmark for housing.
Barton Farm is marked, as is farmland to the north of Wellhouse Lane, dubbed Barton Farm 2, where Bovis and Heron Homes have options for development.
Also included is South Winchester Golf Club and land at Pitt Down owned by farm company Hall and Burge. There are also around 20 sites within Winchester.
Conservation campaigners are concerned about the number of sites being promoted.
Patrick Davies, chairman of the policy group of the City of Winchester Trust, said: “The western side of the city is very vulnerable. There are no natural boundaries that would give a reason to stop. There are an awful lot of landowners with aspirations. This is one of the great worries. Clearly there has to be new housing but things could get out of hand. It is difficult to know if landowners have serious proposals.”
The trust believes there are enough sites within the city to absorb development. One landowner on the west is Winchester College which recently bought two sites near the Royal Winchester Golf Club.
Robin Chute, estates bursar, said: “We bought a 15-acre field off Sarum Road last July. It was put forward (for SHLAA) by the previous owners Gleeson Homes. The council asked whether we still wanted it registered. We said yes. Nothing is going to happen there for 20 years. Sometime in the future there may be development. We have let it on a 20-year farm tenancy to Joy and Rachel Waldron of Beechcroft Farm.
“It is the same with our land at Weeke Down. We bought that from a property developer at auction. We are obliged under the terms of the contract to promote it,” said Mr Chute.
He said it is the college’s land and property that produces income to maintain its historic buildings.
The number of sites in the SHLAA has been gradually increasing since it was started in 2008.
But Steve Opacic, head of strategic planning at the city council, stressed that inclusion did not mean the land would be developed. “It is a list of sites that landowners want to promote. It does not give them any status and does not change planning policies applying to them.
“The big worry amongst councillors was that if we started publishing maps people might get the wrong end of the stick, but planning inspectors know what status they have or don’t have,” added Mr Opacic.
Bushfield Camp south of Winchester is not marked because its owners, the Church Commissioners, want non-housing development there. The City of Winchester Trust is concerned that Bushfield Camp is now considered by planners to be an ‘opportunity site’ in the future.
The publication of the map coincides with the city council launching the preparation of Local Plan Part 2 to allocate smaller sites for development in the district outside the South Downs National Park.
Part 2 will also provide the opportunity to review existing policies and settlement boundaries for the Plan which will extend until 2031.
Cllr Rob Humby, portfolio holder for strategic planning and economic development, said: “Local Plan Part 2 is an important part of the Local Plan. The council will be working closely with local communities, especially in the larger settlements that have a housing target in Local Plan Part 1, to develop a Plan that has strong local input and community support.”
The deadline for comments is Noon Friday February 22.