The Water Close Garden is an exquisite and perfect place that enriches this corner of the heart of Winchester in the most wonderful way. For such a small space to create such a strong impact in this location is a reflection of the care, attention and foresight of the original designers and Sir Peter Smithers who left the garden as a fitting legacy for the people of Winchester. Anyone who knows the Water Close Garden will know that it would be an act of reckless vandalism to destroy this place for the sole benefit of the owner whose purpose is simply to maximise their financial gain at the expense of all else. This planning application states disingenuously that the Water Close Garden ‘has no heritage significance’. This is far from the truth. The garden was created in the 1950s by a benevolent owner to frame a new view of the Cathedral and specifically to give pleasure to residents and visitors passing to and from the Cathedral Close. It sits at the heart of the city conservation area and has a carefully contrived and perfectly harmonious relationship to the adjacent listed heritage assets, and its water feature echoes the city’s ancient heritage of waterways and forms an important additional element to the green environment surrounding the Cathedral.

This proposed development will destroy the integrity of the garden and the legacy left to the city by Sir Peter Smithers. It will remove an exceptional designed landscape from public enjoyment at a time when green, open spaces are recognised as a crucial benefit to public health. Winchester is an exceptional place to live, work and visit – but we all need to understand that we have a responsibility to ensure that the unique aesthetic of this small but very important corner of the Cathedral’s setting is not compromised in this thoughtless way. I trust that the planners will ensure that the development is prevented from happening, and would urge them to find a way of preserving the Water Close Garden in perpetuity – future generations would look very kindly on this long term objective as a very positive step.

Ted Wake

Click on the link below to see the BBC news online story.