Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Planning needs to be local

That was an easy conclusion after the farce of this morning's Ridgeway mobile phone mast decision in Badger Farm. Two dozen local residents gathered to voice their objections to an unwanted Vodafone mast a few metres from their homes. An assortment of Winchester Planning Development Control Committee members, under the guise of the Telecoms Planning Sub Committee, listened to residents (and to me) and ignored everything they heard.

The officer's advice to approve was confirmed by 4 votes to one, the dissenting voice being my colleague Karen Barratt. So why should they have rejected this?
1. The application was a mess. The sketch provided by Vodafone was misleading and the Vodafone representative managed to say that the existing mast site on Badger Farm Road was both perfectly viable and impossible. No one pressed him on this apparent contradication.
2. The mast will be out of character with the area. Vodafone will helpfully disguise it as telegraph pole, making it the only telegraph pole on the entire estate. Clever eh?
3. The officer's recommendation to accept was accompanied by the proviso that it was "subject to demonstration". No demonstration of the height took place. Coupled with the misleading sketch this meant that the committee guessed the height of the mast and its visual impact when making their decision. That's right...they GUESSED.
4. Local people didn't want it. I know that's not a planning consideration, after all the phone companies paid a lot of money to the government for 3G licences and wouldn't want NIMBYs getting in the way.

So Badger Farm has an ugly, unwanted phone mast foisted on it by a sub-committee comprising councillors from Shedfield, Kings Worthy, Owslebury and Weeke, with a dissenting vote from Fulflood.

Planning affects communities and needs to be as far as possible in the hands of those communities and the members that are locally elected by them, not people who may well never visit the Ridgeway again.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Greening Oliver's Battery Launch tomorrow

Saturday 11 October 2008, sees the public launch of the Oliver's Battery Greening Campaign in the presence of the Deputy Mayor of Winchester. Come along to Oliver's Battery School at 2pm for entertainment, music, information and a free greening bag.

Find us on FaceBook too!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


"Speed dating" at the Theatre Royal!

Not quite as racy as it sounds, but today a group of City Councillors met staff from Winchester's Theatre Royal for a "speed dating" session.

The Theatre holds annual meetings with city councillors to update us on how it spends it grant money and the services it provide to the local community. This year's format meant that we met a whole range of theatre staff, from board members to front of house and got to spend a few minutes with each of them. I found it useful and interesting. It's rare to get a cross section view of an organisation and the sense of a happy and motivated team came across very strongly.

I believe, as I've said on this blog before, that the Theatre Royal plays a vital role in the cultural life of this city and that cultural life is one of the things that makes Winchester what it is. I fully back the efforts of the team at TRW to increase their audiences, take the arts into the villages of the district and improve communications through what is going to be a state of the art new website. Break a leg guys!

Bushfield Camp hits the headlines

An interesting piece in today's Hampshire Chronicle has the Head of Planning & Development for the Church Commissioners, owners of Bushfield, calling for development on the old army camp site. Of course, it's no secret that the Church Commissioners have been wanting to sell off this land for housing for many years. I've always favoured leisure and recreation use of the site, with sports facilities and a country park that would extend across to Whiteshute Ridge.

We'll certainly be keeping a close eye on any proposals that emerge.

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