Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, visited Winchester on Friday to support campaigners calling for urgent and sustainable action on social housing.
Local residents and activists are calling on Winchester Council to redevelop the land on Gordon Road, currently used as St. Peter's car park, to increase the supply of social housing in the Winchester district. The car park was meant to temporary while the Brook Centre was being built. Replacing it with homes would help meet local housing needs, reduce traffic in the city centre and improve air quality. It would also provide an alternative to building social housing in precious green and open spaces.
To bring the campaign call to life, a well-known local architect supported campaigners by producing a capacity study which demonstrates how the site could accommodate 14 x 2-bedroom units and 11 x 1-bedroom units on the space currently allocated for car parking. These plans are based on ones devised by Peter Barber Architects, built and occupied on two London sites.
See the plan below
Keith Taylor MEP said:
“We are in the midst of a UK-wide housing crisis, which is acutely felt in the South East. Families in my constituents struggle to find affordable homes in the places in which they have grown up and work. I fully support the campaign in Winchester; it sets out a bold and sound solution to not only meet our housing needs but also take a significant positive step towards reducing toxic levels of air pollution in the city.”
The campaign launch coincides with the release of a report which names Winchester as one of the least affordable cities in which to buy a home.
Andrew Wainwright, a local campaigner said:
"Winchester continues to move up the ranks of unaffordable cities, so it is important that the council explores sustainable solutions on housing, which ensure we support residents of all needs and incomes. To build social housing on St Peter's car park will not only prevent housing being built on precious green spaces but will help prevent traffic being attracted to this area, which is adjacent to St. Bede's Primary school where worrying air pollution levels have been recorded."
Mr Taylor continued:
“Local campaigners have a great idea and have evidence and the support of the experts necessary to bring it to fruition. The council must not only act to support the needs of local residents but also listen to those among them who want to be involved in shaping a positive future for their city.”
During the senior Green Party politician's visit, campaigners handed a letter to the City Council offices addressed to Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Horrill. They await a response.
The petition accuses Winchester’s leaders of lacking the ‘political will’ to meet the social housing needs of the city, four years after Keith Taylor MEP launched his ‘House Crisis’ report launch in the city in 5th April 2015.