In addition to the concerns already mentioned, comments received from residents in the team’s public opinion survey and design day exercise highlighted several issues about the design of Whitchurch’s built environment; these are summarised below and then followed by guidelines to address them.
Mix of housing designs
Almost a third of respondents to our survey said that future housing should be “mixed”, meaning that it should consist of different sizes, shapes and designs, including a portion of smaller, affordable dwellings. These views in effect endorse the patchwork nature of the built environment and are evidence that local residents want to see that variety maintained and extended in any new development.
Residents expressed their unhappiness with national ‘anywhere’ designs in some of the modern period estates, in which non-local features and materials combine to dilute the local character. ‘Diversity within a pattern’ is what local residents appreciate.
The country feel to Whitchurch
Those buildings that are actually in the small settlements and farms outside of the town need to retain their rural character, but, for the town of Whitchurch, keeping the rural nature of the built environment is not a straightforward matter.
As a town and not a village, Whitchurch has many urban characteristics arising from the need to cope with traffic, parking, communications, personal and building security and other issues.
Trees and open spaces are particularly important to Whitchurch residents. When asked in our opinion survey to identify the most important aspects in the design of new developments, 82 per cent of respondents identified “provision of trees and open spaces” as essential.
If the existing rural character of the town is to be retained, the link between trees and buildings is vital to integrate the built form into the surrounding landscape.
The traffic noise from the A34 bypass has become a major irritant to may of the residents of the town. Particularly affected is the area west of the disused railway, almost all elevated parts of the town, as well as low-lying areas close to the bypass: Micheldever and Winchester roads, Church Street and The Weir. Thus an external force not of Whitchurch’s making and outside its control is seriously damaging the country feel of the place that residents so much like.
“Encourage a balance of housing types and ensure that infrastructure keeps pace with developments.”
— Public Opinion Survey
The residents appreciate the benefits to the town of the bypass but want every possible measure taken to minimise noise and light pollution from it.
Some of the guidelines aim to ensure that Whitchurch has a built environment that preserves a country feel to the place, while accepting modern transport and communications systems.
Materials and Features
In our public opinion survey, 49 per cent of respondents said they considered the use of compatible materials as “essential” in new developments. “Compatible” here means compatible with materials that are used in other local buildings. This was only slightly lower in the ranking they gave to the scale (52 per cent) and style (51 per cent) of local buildings.
Other guidelines reflect this interest in compatibility of materials used in the built environment of Whitchurch.
“I really like brightly coloured houses, especially on rainy days when it stops everything looking so grey.”
“No more horrible bright orange, yellow paintwork. Natural colours blend in much better with the environment.”
– Design Day comments