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£10 million student housing complex in Winchester: A dangerous risk to students’ safety?

PUBLISHED: 16:04 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:04 08 April 2016

Archant

A £10 million student housing complex near Winchester railway station has been approved, but is it an eyesore and a dangerous risk to students’ safety? Alice Cooke asks

Three buildings with the capacity to house 257 students will be built on a derelict depot owned by Hunts Frozen Foods, which is just off Andover Road near to the railway station. But fears have been voiced to Winchester City Council that a new footpath next to the tracks could endanger students as well as increase noise and anti-social behaviour. There are even complaints on an aesthetic scale – some neighbours say the accommodation’s height (four and five storeys) would damage their view of the area.

But is this just NIMBYism? (Not In My Back Yard) – whatever and wherever any council in the county proposes to build, there will inevitably be protests and upset, because everyone likes a bit of space, and everyone likes things the way they are (me included) – so why shouldn’t we complain if someone wants to build right on our doorstep?

To be honest I think that we have every right, but practically we don’t – we can voice our opinions and shout as loud as we like, but unless we hold some serious sway or know someone incredibly important, it will most likely fall on deaf ears.

In the case of this new student housing plan, Hampshire business leaders have previously expressed concern that the prime location is being used for housing instead of tackling Winchester’s shortage of commercial space.

The opposite side of the argument says that the Hunts Frozen Food scheme will effectively kick-start a wider revamp of the Station Approach area, with office blocks, public facilities and transport infrastructure planned.

Developer Osborne says the project will house second and third year students, keeping as many ‘freshers’ as possible near campus and easing pressure on existing estates like nearby Stanmore.

Winchester University welcomes the scheme but has not committed to taking it on. The council has said that “other institutions could be interested”. Really? Are you sure about that? There are plenty of other student campuses around, don’t get me wrong – but being where it is, I imagine all hopes are firmly pinned on Winchester University.

Much opposition has been targeted at the development, including the prospects of anti-social behaviour, noise from students, the views of those who have homes overlooking the site, and poor pedestrian access.

Ward councillor Liz Hutchison said the plan was flawed with a “dangerous crossing” onto Romsey Road, that is not being looked into. She went on to add that the pedestrian and cycle access needed to be “dramatically improved.”

David Rothery, presenting the case, said that although the flats will be for students, this will see other houses being freed up for families to live in and, in effect, give the city more housing for the local community.

Have your say

Are you for or against the new plans? Email our editor on elizabeth.kirby@archant.co.uk

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