Sensitive landscape design secures approval for St Swithun’s Church

Deacon Design have helped to secure planning approval for the landscape enhancements at St Swithun’s Church in Headbourne Worthy, near Winchester.

Heritage Value

Having stood for over 1000 years, this Grade I listed church was dedicated to St Swithun, Bishop of Winchester and lies on the pilgrims’ route from Canterbury to his shrine in Winchester Cathedral. Alongside its heritage value the church sits within a designated Site of Importance to Nature Conservation on a tributary of the nearby River Itchen.

For several years, the church sought to improve their landscape setting to include a landscaped car park to improve the community offering for services, weddings and funerals. However, despite numerous discussions with the local planning authority the sensitivity of the site proved too big a constraint.

The church lies within a designated Site of Importance to Nature Conservation
The church lies within a designated Site of Importance to Nature Conservation

Fresh Approach

Appointed in 2018, we conducted a detailed site appraisal to understand the site constraints and opportunities which informed further collaboration and design development with the team. Working with the project arboriculturist, heritage consultant, ecologist and engineer we were able to deliver a sensitive design response that not only delivers new parking but most importantly conserves and enhances the church’s heritage and landscape setting.

Community Feedback

Our landscape strategy – the result of our visual appraisal – was presented to the local community last summer and the feedback enabled us to further refine the design before being submitted to Winchester County Council Planning team.

Design Principles and Benefits

Together the landscape design proposals will provide the following landscape enhancements:

  • Reinforce the wet woodland character to provide low level screening of the cars from the church whilst retaining filtered views from within the car park across the river.
  • Protect the wet / grassland habitat with opportunities to enhance the under-storey vegetation with plug planted wildflowers.
  • Introduce river restoration techniques to stabilise the riverbanks in certain places and create new habitats.
  • Provide long term tree management including phased replacement of the sycamore trees with native species of greater value. These new trees will complement the existing line of yew trees and form an attractive route along the existing right of way.
  • Car parking materials will use sensitive surfacing techniques (gravel reinforcement system) to complement the rural character and provide lasting protection to the existing trees.

Our knowledge of working on sensitive sites across a variety of scales enabled us to tailor our outputs to deliver a favourable response for the client for a relatively small budget. We are delighted to have secured a successful outcome for this important community north of Winchester.