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This website has been created for the residents of Abbotts Barton and surrounding areas so that you can keep up to-date with what's going on.

Apart from news you can find information about events, campaigns, and how to contact councillors.

Abbotts Barton Community Group is a community association which serves the people of Abbotts Barton and aims to act as a community anchor organisation. The main areas of work for the Group are:
  • ☐ To enable residents to find out how we can make where we live even better and do something about it.
  • ☐ To run events and activities for the benefit of inhabitants of Abbotts Barton.
  • ☐ To strengthen community participation.

Big Lunch 2014
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Friday, 12 September 2014

Abbotts Barton housing development plans almost back to square one!

On Wednesday I went to a meeting about the Local Development Framework (LDF) part 2 arranged by Winchester City Council officers to get a briefing on what the Council's housing officers will be presenting at the next Cabinet meeting (22 September) and then in early October to a full Council meeting. Our meeting was held by Andrew Palmer (Head of New Homes Delivery) and Simon Maggs (Housing Strategy & Development Manager).

The LDF part 2 is in the process of being finalised and once it is ready, it will be published on-line for everybody to take a look. One of the reasons why these Local Plan policies are needed is to make sure that new houses don't get built where nobody wants them, for example in the green belt around town, outside of the city borders. If developers could prove that a City Council is not building enough houses (every town has to follow certain government guidelines on that), they could get the OK to build houses outside of the city borders if they appealed and took this to court. So the officers have to identify enough spaces where houses can be built within the city borders to prevent such actions. (Here is a Hampshire Chronicle article that describes how having a Local Plan has worked out for Winchester before.)

The Council officers had invited a number of people from Abbotts Barton (mainly from the Abbotts Barton Action Group and the Save The Parks group) who had interacted with them about the council housing development plans in 2012/2013, to assure us that the LDF is really only about policies. The detailed plans will be worked out later and could look slightly different depending on local feedback via a consultation. These plans are what they called 'the worst case scenario' in terms of the number of houses they want to build; we were told the plan would say 50 houses for Abbotts Barton but the target is more around 35 to 37. This is slightly worrying as the number for the plan has not really changed from what was envisioned in 2012/13 (see STP site and links given below the post) - and I am wondering which ones of these 50 houses are 'flexible' for the Council to get it down to the lower number and to let us keep much needed green space. Compared to a statement by the Council made in 2013 the current plan as explained to us has almost gone back to the original set-up!

Most importantly, we were told that there will be a six week long public consultation for the parts of the LDF that relate to Abbotts Barton, starting 17 October (similar to what we had before in 2012), and that we will hear from the Council again in early 2015 with the results of that. Once all of the comments have been analysed and incorporated the housing development plans will be adapted (if necessary) and eventually they will be sent to an inspector who will then approve the adoption of them (or not).

  • The attending Council officers explained that the Council's first goal for Abbotts Barton is to build houses around Symonds Court at Hillier Way, this is nothing new. The LDF part 2 document will give us an idea of what kind of dwellings are planned, with some example drawings. Apparently the houses planned will be mainly aimed at people who want to downsize and therefore not be as big as people feared in the past.
  • The next location that was mentioned - many will be very disappointed with this one - was Dyson Drive. As many of you know, a village green application has been made by a number of Abbotts Barton residents and the decision about this has still not been made (backlog!) and there is also no time frame on when to expect this either. The Council would contest a decision for this area to be made a village green.
  • The Council officers stated that it was understood by the Council that most Abbotts Barton residents really don't want any houses to be built on the park along Charles Close and that there were no plans for that any more, apart from a couple of houses at the end of Charles Close near to where the big trees are (which would stay). This is mostly good news and residents can voice their concerns about houses at the bottom of Charles Close at the consultation.
  • In the aforementioned statement by the Council in 2013,  the community was told that the Council would look at the garage sites at Chaundler Road to build new houses, so we asked about the current plans for them. Even though the Council now has a better idea on how the 152 garages are used (100 of them are actually let to Abbotts Barton residents, 52 are either void or let to people outside of Abbotts Barton), they have not worked on this idea further so far as according to them it is very difficult to sort this out. They were also waiting initially to see how the new parking restrictions would work out for our area to ascertain how important these garages are. Personally I'm disappointed with this direction (concentrating on green spaces rather than so-called brownfield sites), and I would like to encourage the Council to continue working on the concepts of more open parking and conversion of garage space to smaller storage units that have been mentioned before (without losing all of the garages) - but I do understand that some residents who use them would be very unhappy if they would have to move to a different garage to make things like that happen.
  • Colbourne Court garages are not on the agenda any more due to ownership complications.

In between all of this we also talked about the Scout Hut proposal and the officers seemed happy to hear that the Abbotts Barton residents in attendance supported this (with some reservations) - as they would like to move this along so that they can tackle the antisocial behaviour in this area and the Scouts get to use the land.

We can only hope that the Council will set up a better consultation this time (no more uncontrolled red and green dot exercises please) and that our concerns will be taken seriously. I still believe it is a good start that the Council started a dialogue this time ahead of any announcements!

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Additional links:
Abbotts Barton Planning Framework part 1 (PDF, 24.7 MB) version from February 2013
Abbotts Barton Planning Framework part 2 (PDF, 22.4 MB) version from February 2013


1 comment:

dan said...

I can't believe we're back to square one and another consultation. What a complete waste of taxpayers money