Notes - Adam Procter

Crisp, minimal personal blog theme for Hugo

Building in Kingsworthy Winchester.

So there are a few days left to respond to the survey and info presented for Local Plan Part 2 and there is a vocal group opposed to building more houses in Kingsworthy and specifically building more on the top field.

Their principle concerns as put forward to the Parish council.

  • The high number of affordable homes
  • The site allocation process and the net dwellings required
  • The loss and shortfall of green space

I doubt there is anyone that is making much noise for more houses and affordable homes in Kingsworthy except for me and I would encourage those against building to read on too.

You could say that I have a biased opinion as I have a family of 3 girls and we currently have no option other than to privately rent due to inflated house pricing and very limited affordable rent or even part buy options. The private rent market is increasingly horrendous as each month goes by PCM costs rise and we receive no benefits towards any of our costs, we are a middle income family, I work full time (teaching) and my wife part time (nursing), with no inheritance or savings we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Just for basic housing, basic bills and basic food, we need almost £2000pcm. Although the lack of affordable housing directly impacts me, I think the top field action group are misplaced and I fear there opinion is disruptive to social inclusion and not forward thinking.

Affordable homes.

There is currently a total lack of affordable housing in the Winchester area, although some appear on the outskirts they are not suitably located for families working and attending schools in Winchester, unless everyone drives! I would thus personally encourage building on all 3 sites in Kingsworthy and make as much of these as possible, affordable rent, Hampshire home choice (council) & part buy, 40% sounds too small (I know this is Government minimum). Many may argue that the Barton Farm and Pitt Manor projects would fulfil the needs I outlined, however this is not something the top field group seems to suggest or mention from the documents I have read, also in the last round the affordable options in Barton farm were gone within minutes and we being relatively new to the area (7+ years in Kingsworthy) did not get a look in.

The top field group raises concerns over the high number of affordable homes in the Kingsworthy build, all this suggests to me is that they have concerns over the types of people that need affordable homes. This is quite plainly classism. There is a major social division happening in the UK and even the 40% building rule often finds social housing totally separated from the rest and thus does not help to breakdown social division at all, some sites such as the old Highbury football ground have attempted to tackled this but most segregate the housing in horrid ways.

I think that the houses in Kingsworthy should focus on total affordability and family dwellings or if a rapid survey could be completed of the current council / affordable rent property in Winchester that would allow local movement of those in current 2/3 bedroom family places to take smaller occupancy in the new builds, this could also be suitable.

If there is only one option then the top field is the best option, due to the location, near shops, connections to town and the north (a30) and suitability as the build is within the village, the other options expand the village and perhaps suit better those working north of Winchester. Also looking at the green areas created on the 50 house option they actually appear to make this space more inviting and usable for families, I have never used the top field as it stands, we always visit Eversely Park, as this is a usable recreation area, the top field is currently just an open field and I think I would rather visit the new forest if I wanted to walk on open fields, this space is currently a complete waste of space.

Loss and shortfall of green space

There is no environmental impact to creating houses on the top field in regards to displacement of species from what I understand and the top field group have made no sensible suggestions like a conversion to a wild flower space to encourage bees and insects, something that would actually be of great use, considering we are now in the 6th mass extinction, no the main concerns seem to be traffic, dog walking spaces and a nostalgic faux environmental debate on keeping a green space.

The traffic issue could be further reduced by ensuring the houses are for local working families and perhaps have some deal with local transport into Winchester and later evening services. I for one when I can push bike to work (town) , my wife walks to work and we only own one car.

From my perspective the complaints about development in the village appear to be from the comfortable few that already own homes, are retired, have dogs, have savings, work in London and are not families or local working couples, at least this is what I have deduced.

The big challenges facing the UK are employability, environmental challenges and affordable housing.

If Kingsworthy is to continue to have any kind of village life, Kingsworthy needs to address these things too, else the village will become the play ground of rich city (London) workers, that like to have an address in a nice “village” in Winchester to spend the weekend at.

So I welcome more houses in the area and I question the top field group and their motives, perhaps they should look at the build across Winchester, not make classist comments and think about a proper use of the the top field into something that has a positive environmental impact such as a wild meadow area that could preserve insect life ?

Aside : My Family needs affordable housing, our combined household income is well above the national average, we are awarded no benefits and as you can see the private rental market in Winchester for a family requires an income of least £2000pcm

Official Response

Top Field Action Group - TFAG

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but can it be made clear that TFAG are NOT against development of more homes including affordable homes in Kings Worthy. Many members will have completed Feedback Forms selecting one of the other sites. The purpose of TFAG is to save Top Field from further development as used by so many people for recreation purposes & also has an abundance of wild life which need their habitat conserving. It is the last remaining piece of open land available in KW. Also the direct impact on the roads around Hookpit Farm Lane will be very dangerous. TFAG purpose is NOT classism & NOT against New & affordable homes…..

my reply

Thank you, I still think comments about too much affordable housing are not helpful, the top field rental for 3 bed is going to be £760pcm - that is still high but considered affordable ? This development is sitting within purchased places so why not have 60-70% of the new build affordable.

I would like to see some real data on your environmental angle please as this is something that does concern me. However I would be more in favour of a wild meadow over a “green field” and some actual conservation efforts - please see the co-ops Plan Bee Campaign