The Chairperson welcomed Andy von Bradsky to the meeting who gave a presentation which provided information regarding design coding as a tool for the planning system and outlined how this would work for Winchester and how this would apply for the town area. An overview was provided on what part of Winchester town may serve best as a test for how design coding may be developed, how this would inform updates required to the High Quality Places Supplementary Planning Document and the criteria and testing issues for design coding. It was noted that five areas of Winchester within the town area had been highlighted; North Winchester, Easton Lane, Romsey Road, Stanmore and Oliver’s Battery/Bushfield Camp, setting out the character and design code implications for each of these areas. A scoring matrix was carried out on each of the five areas looking at which best addressed the testing issues for Winchester, including the opportunity for change, community and stakeholder involvement, context, nature, heritage etc, with North Winchester scoring highest to these tests. In addition, the important aspects to coding surrounding design parameters were also summarised.
The forum were reminded that at its last meeting, there was agreement to take the opportunity to collaborate with Andy von Bradsky, who would act as a ‘critical friend’ in the preparation of a local design code. In addition, the forum had suggested locations, accepted that the cost would be shared among the forum, the City of Winchester Trust and the council and gave authority to a contribution of £3,000 from the vision delivery budget towards the collaborative cost of this work.
The forum proceeded to ask detailed questions on the following matters which were responded to by the Cabinet Member, Mr von Bradsky and the Strategic Planning Manager:
(i) How would having a design code make an area change? In response, it was noted that design coding was about the spaces between buildings and the quality of roads, streets and public spaces to ensure you have quality consistently in an area by setting out requirements. In North Winchester, there was potential to improve diverse issues such as spaces between public buildings, the green infrastructure and parking arrangements.
(ii) The weighting given within the scoring matrix. It was noted that weighting had not been applied but heavier scoring had been given to areas that had an identified community and a vision (opportunity for change) which were both important aspects and whether it addressed the key issues across the town and the wider area. Therefore, if weighting had been applied, similar outcomes would be achieved.
(iii) How enforceable would a design code be? In relation to its interaction with the local plan, it was noted that a code would give a bit more detail on the back of the regulation 18 local plan and it was proposed that this would be adopted as a supplementary planning document to give it weight in the planning process. This would be the next step to bringing the vision from regulation 18 local plan into fruition.
(iv) Community and stakeholder engagement. Including the opportunity to work with Littleton & Harestock and Headbourne Worthy Parish Council’s on the North Winchester design code to align with Village Design Statements (VDS)
(v) The opportunity to create a 15 minute neighbourhood.
(vi) The Government’s aspiration is that design codes become part of the local plan as an adopted tool, with potentially the equivalent weight as a local plan, but would have to go through a supplementary planning document process to achieve this.
In conclusion, the forum thanked Andy von Bradsky, the City of Winchester Trust and officers for the work carried out to date. The forum supported the proposal to focus on North Winchester as an area to commence the design code process, welcomed the opportunity to be a leader in this process going forward and noted that a Design Code Board, together with its terms of reference, would be established in due course.
1. That the presentation be received and the comments raised by the committee, as summarised above, be noted; and
2. That North Winchester, as the initial area for the commencement of the design code process, be agreed.