As you will have seen in the news, the new Sports and Leisure Park at Bar End has been granted planning permission. This followed a 3 hour public planning committee meeting where numerous objectors and a selection of councillors all raised the issue of access to the leisure centre for non car users. The support was really impressive. Thanks go to all involved.
However despite efforts to try and make things better there is, unfortunately, little to show for it. There may be a few more bike stands than there would have been.
Cyclists have been given a badly designed shared use link between Domum Road (NCN23) and Bar End; for most cyclists in Winchester this link will be irrelevant as you can’t easily get onto NCN23 from the centre of Winchester. Winchester City Council has yet to learn the difference between a cycling facility and a useful cycling facility.
Our mini survey showed that those of you currently cycling to River Park will generally expect to cycle to Bar End; a few did say that they would not because of cycling with children and/or the need to use the inner ring road.
Pedestrians and public transport users have also largely been ignored and they will feel the absence of effective access measures even more sharply than us cyclists. 30% of current River Park users live within 1km and 75% are within 5kms. 28% of current users walk. Existing members and casual users have been largely ignored in the consultation process. It would be expected that those whose journeys become more difficult will visit less often than currently. This is a very car centric facility and future growth is expected to come from outside Winchester.
Selection of an operator for the Sports and Leisure Park is now underway; a full business case will be produced and signed off by Winchester City Council early next year. It seems unlikely that further consultations or improvements will be made unless Winchester City Council or the operator concludes there could be a risk to revenue. This risk could be reduced by talking to current users and encouraging local users to continue walking and cycling.
So a lot of support but ultimately a disappointing result. Let’s hope the shortly to be published movement strategy has more to offer.