In the end, there is not a good or bad place for some things, just what is "BEST" for you the end user on "YOUR" boat, not mine!
I do not believe there is a right or wrong answer. Just that it had better make sense to you the end user.
I agree completely. There are a lot of factors that enter into deciding these type of things. Not the least of which is what kind of boats you have sailed in your life, how old your boat is, whether or not you can usually count on a second person, how much money you can spend, etc.
I'm just transferring my own prejudices. I have a boat whose halyards, single line reefing and lazy-jack controls are at the mast. I have sailed and cruised her extensively. But I have sailed a lot more miles on other people's boats and most of them had their halyards led aft.
I guess I just like my own boat better than everybody else's so I espouse my own views.
Having had to do it alone so often in the course of my business, I can tell you that it is a lot less work to put a sail up that luff groove if you are working from the mast. By taking one turn around the winch with the halyard, you are able to walk forward to feed the sail on while hoisting.
It's not impossible to do it from the cockpit, but it's usually a lot harder.
And if you have ever tried to hoist a dingy onto the fore-deck alone you will agree that having a self tailing winch to work with in that vicinity would come in handy.
To be honest, my sheets do foul on the occasional tack, but they aren't catching the winches. They foul on the diamond plates that are installed on my upper shrouds as part of the mast lowering system. I only seem to have a problem when I am careless and don't back-wind the genoa just long enough. I'm thinking about leathering the area.
Anyway, I didn't mean to imply that there was only one way to layout a deck or that my way was better than anyone else's. Long as it works and you can go sailing.