Build Social Housing on the site of St Peters car park

We meet with Keith Taylor - Our Green MEP - on March the 8th to launch a petition for the redevelopment of St Peter's car park between North Walls and St. Bede Primary School.

Winchester is one of the least affordable places in the UK. It is in urgent need of social housing. Therefore, we need to built more. We found a perfect site for this in the centre of the City. No green space will be lost only a few car park spaces that need to be reduced anyway if the council wants to put the Movement strategy into practice.

We will meet at St Peter's Car Park at 11.30 am and will afterwards hand in a letter to WCC.

Please sign the petition here.

Here are more photos:

These drawings compare before and after:

Now:

 

Samples of new Social Housing instead of car park:

 

Justification:

1. Social Housing Need:  Winchester has become an increasingly unaffordable place to live, especially for those on whom the everyday functioning of the City depends.  The City Council had a good record of council house building until the Right to Buy and deliberate central government policy to deter investment in social housing.  The replacement policy of building property for rent as part of commercial development processes, was based on the notion of ‘affordable’ house provision.  In a place like Winchester the criterion for affordable property, that it should be leased at 80% of commercial rent,  meant that it was not affordable at all for those most in need.  Central government has, moreover, reduced the availability of ‘affordable housing’ through its concessions to the dubious ‘viability’ claims of the developers.

Recently, however, WCC has found itself able to invest in a limited amount of new social housing, but it has so far achieved this at the expense of important urban open space (at Hillier Way in Abbotts Barton and expected in the Valley at Stanmore).  ‘Brownfield’ is supposed to be the land of first choice for development and St Peter’s car park is an appropriate area.

A well known local architect  has produced a capacity study which shows that the site could accommodate 14 x  2-bedroom units and 11 x 1-bedroom units on the space currently allocated for car parking. These type plans are based on ones devised by Peter Barber Architects which are built & occupied on 2 London sites.

 

2. St. Peter’s Car Park was only ever intended to be temporary. It was built on the site of St Peter’s Primary School in the mid 1980s.  St Peter’s School was demolished and turned into a temporary car park while the Brooks Development car park was being constructed.  WCC always asserted that it would close once the Brooks opened.  That promise is 30 years old.   At each new provision of Park and Ride car park capacity WCC undertook to the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency, to remove an equivalent amount of central car parking capacity.  Of the 1654 spaces thus promised for closure only 178 have gone, through the forced demolition of the ageing Friarsgate multistorey.  The Winchester Town Access Plan (WTAP) 2011 promised an initial removal of 500 spaces.  It is time to keep promises.

3. There is a precedent for this kind of conversion with the loss of car parking in Chesil Street to housing.

 

4. Air Pollution would be reduced:  Both Councils recognise that Winchester remains significantly in breach of air quality legislation and this is indeed one of the reasons for the Movement Strategy proposing traffic reduction.  St Peter’s Car Park is on the central circulation system and is thus a traffic attractor to the centre.  It is, moreover, immediately adjacent to St Bede’s Primary School and worrying air pollution levels have been demonstrated there.

5. Why Now?

(a) the need for more social housing is urgent

(b) Winchester City Council (WCC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) have published a draft Movement Strategy for Winchester which explicitly recognises the need to reduce traffic in the City and points to the need to remove central car parking.  These proposals have received widespread support during public consultation.    The Movement Strategy needs to be activated or it is in danger of fading away like previous plans (e.g. the WTAP)  but is not so far displaying any sense of urgency and hesitates over uncertainty of funding.  Since there is adequate Park and Ride capacity available now and underused edge-of-centre car parking capacity, there is no particular funding difficulty in relation to transport budgets. 

(c) WCC has an urgent need to address its legal failure to meet air pollution legislation.  It has been in an illegal state for more than 9 years and last year’s High Court and Supreme Court rulings were that authorities should meet their obligations in the shortest possible time, stressing that that meant no excuses of convenience or cost.

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