The Strategic Planning Manager gave a presentation that was circulated with the agenda, setting out government guidance and proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the national design code and guidance, local design code related documents, the vision, the regulation 18 local plan, the stakeholder and workshop events and feedback highlighting five key areas, the collaborative design code process with the parameters for achieving this and the next steps to be taken.
It was outlined that there was an opportunity to collaborate with Andy von Bradsky, who used to be the government’s Head of Architecture and was the author of the national modern design code. Andy would be willing to act as a ‘critical friend’ in the preparation of a local design code. It was recognised that this would be at a cost which could be shared among the forum, the City of Winchester Trust and the council.
The forum proceeded to ask detailed questions on the following matters which were responded to by the Strategic Planning Manager:
(i) Was there a sense of where change is expected to happen, particularly the assumptions on densification? Using CIL as an indicator, Chilbolton Avenue had experienced the greatest change, with similar pressures in other parts of the city, such as Sleepers Hill. In relation to densification, it was suggested that this could be better controlled/included via any updates to the High Quality Places Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
(ii) Were there plans to update existing design codes and looking closer at residential areas? It was recognised that design codes were not just residential, but were about other spaces and opportunities for roads, surrounding areas etc.
(iii) How the emphasis on design codes would fit within existing planning framework.
(iv) Could areas be extended once they had commenced.
(v) The impact of design codes in the planning process? It was noted that the Levelling Up Bill had indicated that Local Design Codes would hold the same weight as a Local Plan.
(vi) The output from the process – a single design code or a pilot area? The main challenge was where to start the trial and testing process. The need to secure the ‘buy in’ of large architectural firms in Winchester to be involved in the design codes was highlighted.
(vii) Building a level of resilience into the design codes to enable them to continue to be usable working documents in an ever changing environment over years to come.
(viii) The timescale for the first design code and subsequent roll out in other areas –it was anticipated that it would take between 9 to 12 months to prepare local design code.
During debate, the forum considered that the primary focal points for the design code process first phase of delivery should include three sites at Romsey Road; Harestock and wider St Barnabas; and Easton Lane. It was suggested that analysis work with officers take place to consider which of these three sites should be selected for the primary study with a report back of its findings to come back to the forum in due course.
In conclusion, the forum thanked officers and welcomed and supported the design code process and the formation of a partnership group to include members of the forum, the council and the City of Winchester Trust.
1. That the presentation be received and the comments raised by the committee, as summarised above, be noted;
2. That the Strategic Planning Manager be asked to undertake an analysis of the suitability of the three locations highlighted above: Romsey Road, Harestock and wider St Barnabas and Easton Lane and be invited to report back to the next meeting of the forum; and
3. That, subject to the agreement of the location, the forum authorise a contribution of £3,000 from the vision delivery budget towards the collaborative cost of work to be carried out by Andy von Bradsky to commence delivery of the design code process.