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Hundreds protest against Allies and Morrison's Winchester scheme

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More than a thousand marchers took to the streets of Winchester at the weekend to protest against a number of developments which they say will ruin the historic town centre

The movement, marching under the banner Winchester Deserves Better, was sparked by residents angered by Allies & Morrison’s £165 million Silver Hill redevelopment scheme.

Proposed new revisions to the 2ha project, which is being backed by Henderson Global Investors, would increase the amount of shopping space, scrap the scheme’s bus station and reduce the number of homes to 177 – removing all on-site affordable housing. A special meeting about the plans will be held by Winchester City Council on 11 December.

The protestors, who brought Winchester city centre to a standstill on Saturday, are also concerned about the way in which Winchester City Council is consulting with residents over new developments.

City councillor Kim Gottlieb, who has already been granted a judicial review of the Silver Hill scheme, told the crowds: ‘There are many things that we would all want to change, but the thing that most urgently needs change today is the way the council wants to develop Silver Hill.

‘What happens on this site will define the future of the city. Unfortunately what the council has planned for this site can only be described as appalling.  If it goes ahead it will be an absolute catastrophe for the city.

‘It is monolithic and dismal, it is over-scaled and it is over-simplified, it is uniform, dreary and just plain ugly. Its shops will draw larger retailers away from the High Street and it will end up devastating that too.’

He added: ‘There needs to be a radical change in attitude.  The council must understand that the way in which it consults the public not just with Silver Hill, but with other schemes including Chesil Street and Station Approach, needs changing too.’

The campaign group is backed by Winchester-based architect Robert Adam of ADAM Urbanism, who has produced an alternative version of how the Silver Hill scheme could look. He told the AJ last week: ‘[This protest] with Silver Hill and now other people have joined in. It is essentially about the council not listening to its constituency.

‘I just wish they had done this when we, as a small group of architects, drew everyone’s attention to this a few years ago.’

Winchester protestors - November 2014

Response:

Paul Appleton, Partner, Allies and Morrison:

‘We were selected in 2003, in a design competition to regenerate Winchester’ s Silver Hill Quarter. In the years since then, working on this scheme has been a labour of love.
‘Our approach from the start has been to restore the historical grain of the city, in the one area within its Roman wall which had lost its way. Dominated by mid-twentieth century buildings and a nineteen sixties inner ring-road, here at last was an opportunity to sew Silver Hill back into the extraordinary fabric of Winchester.

I hope the few loud voices won’t not prevent the quiet truth being heard

‘This has meant designing buildings which react and respond to their city in form, surface and detail. It has also required a forensic examination of views within, across and from beyond the city itself.

‘The language, scale and composition of these proposed buildings is the product of years of study, conversation and design; a process which

has been shared with Winchester in a collaborative and consultative process which has been both extensive and rewarding.

‘Winchester is a precious city; it has a unique place in the architectural and cultural history of England; it is that context which our proposals seek to understand and to repair. I hope and trust that the misrepresentations of a few loud voices will not prevent the quiet truth being heard.’

 

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • To attack Allies and Morrison is to misunderstand the focus of the protest by citizens last Saturday, which was mainly focused on their brief, controlled by the City's members and officers and above all the developer, Hendersons. The design is simply the consequence of the demand for an over-supply of retail, parking, the abandonment of the provision for affordable homes by the developers, which was intrinsic to the planning brief from inception and the squeezing out of civic space.The resultant over-bulky scheme is the result of these pressures, outside the architects control. This is not a question of stylistic issues as some would seek to imply.

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