PART of Winchester City centre could be subject to a major development if plans to buy land north of the city go ahead.
The city council are in the last phase of negotiations with the county council to buy land and property adjacent to Gladstone Street car park.
The county council has proposed to relocate the registry office to land to be conveyed by the city council in early 2015. It forms part of The Station Approach Development which aims to build offices, a multi-storey car park, a cafe and housing.
The plan is to build the multi-storey car park first to relieve pressure on the site at the cattle market off Andover Road when this is later expanded.
Chairman of the Winchester Town Forum, Robert Hutchison, said: “We can all agree that the station area has huge potential, both for economic development and as a greatly improved gateway to Winchester. But to get to the best possible outcomes we need the best possible process. If you want the best possible result you need the best possible process. “Taking short cuts and taking a site-based rather than an area-based multidisciplinary approach will probably result in a further waste or time and resources.”
Cllr Hutchinson added he felt that given the project included the development of two separate sites the city council should work as closely as they could with other agencies and redeploy the case away from the officer currently responsible – the director of estates, Kevin Warren.
“The need for joined up thinking and planning points to the need for a multi-agency approach,” Cllr Hutchinson said. “This is fundamental to getting the best results in the station area. The multi-agency approach should also involve interest groups like Winchester BID.
“In my view, developing the Station Area needs a project manager capable of providing an overview and leading an interdisciplinary team. The director of estates should not be expected to do this – he has a big workload and shouldn’t be expected to co-ordinate a team of specialists covering highways and transport, urban design and landscape architecture. Mr Warren, said: “Obviously the station is attractive to a large number of people but we have to balance the needs of as many people as possible. It’s not helpful to devise a strategy that’s separate to the ability to deliver it. It’s exciting that Winchester is being see as an attractive place and I think we can all agree with everything that has been said in principle.”
Councillor Weston said: “If we are going to continue to grow economically we need to make sure we can attract more people.”