This followed a letter from the Hampshire Chambers of Commerce which totally missed the point of what was discussed by the council…
Nobody opposed the scheme for station approach because they opposed having new offices in the city.Â Councillors opposed it because it was a poor design that was slammed by the independent jury, crammed far too much onto the site, was set to create disastrous congestion and air pollution, and would ruin the appearance of the town for people arriving in Winchester.
The argument put forward by Stephen Gates on behalf of the Hampshire Chambers of Commerce last week is the same one that made the Brooks happen. Something needs to be done. This is something. Therefore it should happen.
The problem with that argument is that it sets absolutely no standards at all for the quality of design and impact on the area.
Letâ€™s not forget how mediocre the scores given to this design by the independent and expert design jury appointed by the council actually were.Â Nothing about the scheme was scored as excellent. Nothing about the scheme was even scored as good.Â And several aspects of the scheme were marked as less than satisfactory.
And thatâ€™s on top of the schemeâ€™s failure to take even the slightest notice of concerns raised by local residents about congestion, traffic and pollution.
As others have noted, the Conservative partyâ€™s disastrous policy allowing offices to be converted into housing at will is hitting the city hard.Â We do need more modern office space. But that doesnâ€™t mean that councillors should approve the first scheme to come along – no matter how bad it is.