Protect Winchester's open spaces for future generations!



Open space, greenery, nature and wildlife are of vital importance to human health and happiness. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown this into sharp relief. During the UK lockdowns, parks, recreation grounds, nature reserves and other green areas provided some respite from confinement. Since then, open spaces have offered the principal means of spending time with family and friends while maintaining “social distance”. Yet, the post-COVID recovery could threaten these very spaces, with the government’s emphasis on “build build build”[1] yielding new housing targets and planning laws[2] that will make development far easier.

The city of Winchester is surrounded by beautiful countryside, some of it protected through designation as national park or nature reserve or “site of special scientific interest”. Within the city’s settlement boundary, however, the publicly accessible open spaces are fairly small and only a few have limited forms of protection. Several sites listed in the 2016 Local Plan Open Space Strategy have since been developed (e.g. The Valley), as have some areas designated as “locally listed historic parks and gardens” (e.g. Pitt Manor).

The city’s main public sports pitches and recreation grounds sit just outside the settlement boundary. They have remained relatively unthreatened while designated as “countryside”. However, only two sets of playing fields, King George V in Highcliffe and the neighbouring Garrison Ground, are legally protected with Fields In Trust. Community mobilisation has been essential to the process of getting these areas properly protected.

Similar efforts to protect other key areas of recreational open space in and around the city should be considered NOW, in light of the proposed new planning laws. Sites within or just outside the current settlement boundary are particularly vulnerable to development pressure. In addition to long-term protection, some sites could be enhanced through biodiversity management, whereas others would benefit from new recreational facilities or other measures to support public access and use.

[1] 10 Downing Street (2020) ‘Build build build’: Prime Minister announces New Deal for Britain press release, 30 June 2020, link

[2] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (2020) Planning for the future consultation, 6 August 2020, link


We are asking Winchester City Council to extend legal protection to all public recreation grounds, sports pitches and parks across the city of Winchester. As a priority, Fields In Trust designation should be sought now for the following open spaces:

North Walls Recreation Ground (including Devil's Island)

Stanmore Recreation Ground

St Matthew’s Field, Weeke

Chilcomb sports ground

St Giles Hill

Oram’s Arbour

Abbey Grounds


Who's signing

56 signatures

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Showing 44 reactions

  • Andy Craig
    signed 2022-12-01 10:50:53 +0000
    Please extend this level of protection to new sports and recreational areas to be allocated within the new local development plans of all Winchester area – including the Sir John Moore Barracks and Bushfield Camp developments
  • Bo Priestley
    signed 2022-08-23 20:08:31 +0100
    As Winchester’s urbanisation increases, these community oases will become increasingly important.
  • Amanda Watkinson
    signed 2022-04-23 23:32:02 +0100
  • Alice Benjamin
    signed 2022-04-13 09:14:36 +0100
  • Edna Boden
    signed 2022-03-30 08:28:34 +0100
  • Susan Jones
    signed 2022-03-23 13:49:49 +0000
  • Richard Yoxall
    signed 2022-03-23 12:29:36 +0000
  • Edmund Barke
    signed 2022-03-23 12:03:50 +0000
    “Local access to green spaces for relaxation and recreation is vital for the mental health of people of all ages”. Edmund Sonuga-Barke PhD, FBA, FMedSci, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London.
  • Katherine Collings
    signed 2022-03-22 10:10:06 +0000
  • Sarah Gooding
    signed 2022-03-21 17:21:21 +0000
  • Christine Broomham
    signed via 2022-03-21 12:25:48 +0000
    We must safe our open spaces not keep building UN affordable housing that local families have to move further away because the so called affordable housing is not affordable to our children
  • David Adams
    signed 2022-03-21 09:06:47 +0000
  • Ralph Jessop
    signed 2022-03-20 19:44:08 +0000
  • Alison Kettley
    signed via 2022-03-20 06:51:41 +0000
  • Samantha Ryman
    signed via 2022-03-20 00:05:55 +0000
  • Belinda Fordham
    signed 2022-03-19 19:40:43 +0000
  • Nicky Alexander
    signed 2022-03-19 18:31:00 +0000
    We have to save the green open spaces,so many houses going up none of which are really affordable housing for the average wage earners like myself and my husband so what’s the point in more?
  • Cheryl Jennings
    signed 2022-03-19 17:39:28 +0000
    It’s so very important to have legal protection for these places. Things can change very suddenly and legal protections put up stronger barriers to misuse of land, meant to be used in perpetuity for the general outside enjoyment and use of the local population, as well as protecting local wildlife as much as we can, in such managed environments.
  • Vicki Atherton
    signed 2022-03-19 14:17:47 +0000
  • Rachael Corrie
    signed 2022-03-19 13:50:14 +0000
  • Sue Humphrys
    signed 2022-03-19 13:35:41 +0000
  • John Barlow
    signed 2022-03-19 13:32:25 +0000
  • Richard Humphrys
    signed 2022-03-19 13:15:46 +0000
  • Rachel Bebb
    signed 2022-02-21 13:12:46 +0000
  • Caroline York
    signed 2021-11-23 12:02:37 +0000
    These spaces are such important “lungs” for the city.
  • Richard York
    signed 2021-11-18 10:24:43 +0000
  • Martin Wilson
    signed 2021-11-17 12:18:55 +0000
  • Rosemary Burns
    signed 2021-11-17 11:30:26 +0000
  • Angela Back
    signed 2021-10-20 12:18:16 +0100
  • Alex Pemberton
    signed 2021-09-15 15:44:25 +0100
    Winchester’s green parks are one of the things that make it so special. This is a top priority.