Councillor Tod introduced the report which detailed the results of the initial stakeholder and wider public engagement. He referred to a communication received from Cycle Winchester requesting that the reference to cycling be made more explicit which could be addressed at the meeting.
The Project Lead gave a presentation on the results of the consultation which had taken place between August and October 2022. The presentation was available on the council’s website here The Project Lead stated that a number of detailed comments had been received which would be more relevant to the next stage of the project (if it were to proceed) and these would be saved.
Two people spoke during public participation as summarised briefly below.
Timothy Montagu (Oram Arbour’s residents’ association)
Mr Montagu clarified that his comments were not a formal response from the residents’ association. He echoed the comments made by others during the public consultation (as reported in the presentation) regarding the importance of history, heritage, green spaces, lighting and transport. He also highlighted the importance of improving the connectivity of the station to the high street area, including the idea of restoring two-way traffic on Sussex Street. He queried whether there was a demand for more office space in the current economic climate. He also believed that the cadet force building could be better located elsewhere and whether the council was working with the owners of Cromwell House and the former Denplan offices.
Phil Gagg (WinACC Transport & Planning Action Group)
Mr Gagg generally welcomed the approach in the report, particularly the link with decarbonising travel. He emphasised that the current station location was the only practical place for a new inter-transport exchange to be situated and the importance of a proper two-way interchange between bus and train travel. He highlighted the aim of ensuring easy access to the city centre, to linking with proposals within the Winchester Movement Strategy and proposals for access to the Central Winchester regeneration area. He stated that the consultation response indicated many more people wanted to see pedestrian, cycling and bus access improvements in the area, compared to those wishing to improve access by car and hoped that the scheme would deliver what people wanted, including younger people.
The Project Lead responded to the comments made during public participation, including on the following points:
(a) Confirmation that the project team were working closely with Hampshire County Council, including on the consultation regarding Sussex Street;
(b) Market analysis and discussions with Winchester BID had confirmed demand for high quality office space which met the latest requirements.
(c) Discussions were being held with the Ministry of Defence and the other owners of the properties mentioned.
(d) The importance of an effective transport interchange was recognised.
(e) It was acknowledged that the consultation response were skewed towards the older generation and further work would be undertaken to discover younger people’s views.
The Project Lead responded to Members’ questions as summarised below:
(f) The process for developing the strategic outline case which would be submitted to Cabinet in July 2023. This would include the aim to prioritise alternative forms of transport, such as cycling, walking and public transport.
(g) The design stage could also look at concerns raised during the consultation regarding safety.
(h) Emphasising that as a long-term project it would be managed in distinct phases and requirements, such as car parking, might change as the project developed.
(i) The current policy of National Rail was to retain all car parking at stations but the council would take a holistic approach to car parking provision to ascertain demand from residents and businesses.
(j) Technical studies were being undertaken to determine if the project was viable for the council to take forward, either on its own or collectively with National Rail. If both parties agreed to take the project forward, a collaborative agreement would be required.
(k) How the latest consultation differed from those carried out previously, including in its method and scope and the new matters being raised.
(l) The importance of managing expectations and sometimes conflicting views.
Cabinet agreed to the following for the reasons set out above and outlined in the report.
1. That the outcome of the initial stakeholder engagement indicating a high level of interest and broad support for the Station Approach project be noted.
2. That the results of the consultation on draft development principles demonstrating overwhelming support and a keen desire to continue to be involved in shaping any potential developments as the project progresses be noted.
3. That a further report will be received later this year incorporating the conclusions of the capacity study and other technical works undertaken into a Strategic Outline Case setting out options for how this project may be progressed. This will be scrutinised prior to a Cabinet decision.