Our findings so far
A vision document is used by councils to steer a city toward a long view. Making a vision document is a chance to take stock and reflect, to develop a coherent approach to the future. It is a chance to think beyond election cycles and consider what a place really needs and how to improve things practically and culturally.
Crucially, it is a chance to listen to what people have to say and give local councils the tools to act on that.
Our approach to writing the Winchester 2020-2030 Vision document, as we outlined in our previous post here, has been to start with an open mind and cast our net as widely as possible in order to listen to what people have to say about living in the city.
Light-footed in lockdown
Over lockdown, our typical in-person meetings moved to video conferencing and this shift gave us a surprisingly light-footed way to move through the local population. As lockdown lifted we went back to the street collecting vox pops and listening to those walking in and out the city, whilst continuing to zoom, skype and team our way around town. Take a look at our virtual walks and hear from the people of Winchester here.
We learned that people love Winchester. They love its ecology, its history, they love being able to walk into the city along the river and they love the sense of community and rich cultural activities here. They know it is a great place to live and that knowledge foregrounded pretty much every conversation we have had.
“We need to retain the history but make it fit for the 20th Century!”
So, what’s stopping this change?
It is clear that for every citizen there is also disparity of experience, housing, travel, employment opportunity, enabling young people to stay, opportunity for all, concerns about the local impact of global Climate Crisis and how to change to mitigate that were all raised.
But…. And there was always a but…
It became clear to us, in almost every conversation that there was a sense of transition, transformation, moving forward being thwarted. That something was stopping the city from making changes- even small changes.
“Winchester has a systemic problem with change.”
That there is a conservative culture that resists change but, more crucially change is resisted out of a love of the city. However the impact of this impasse is effecting everything from how pedestrians navigate their way out of the train station to building affordable housing and retaining young people in the city. This must change if the city is to thrive.
How do we achieve this?
Hearing these frustrations over and over from all walks of life has lead us to the conclusion that the Vision document from Winchester 2020-2030 must focus on how change happens, rather what the change is. This means that the vision document will not be a series of new developments and housing targets. Instead it will set five clear targets that you have told us are dear to you:
- LIFETIMES – opportunities, engagement, and retention
- HOME – living, affordability and the city centre
- ECOLOGY – buildings, landscape, and roots
- CULTURE – arts, creativity, and place
- MOVEMENT – well-being and active travel
Embedded in each of these targets are questions around the fabric of the city, care for the environment and for the people who live and work here.
Our next steps are to use these targets to set achievable goals, short, medium and long term ‘wins’ which will give the people of Winchester the tools to effect change. The first thing we are doing is setting up working groups consisting of a variety of people from all walks of life from across the city. This next phase of the project will start in September and run until October – here we will see exactly how, not what the Vision for Winchester can be achieved.