THIS is how the Silver Hill scheme could look under plans drawn up to challenge its controversial developer.

National conservation trustees have commissioned an alternative to TIAA Henderson Real Estate's £150 million plans for the city centre.

Save Britain's Heritage (SAVE) which led the restoration of the city's Peninsula Barracks in the 1990s, proposes using the city's bus station as a market, reopening the river off Eastgate Street and erecting buildings of no more than four storeys to protect views of Winchester Cathedral.

Like Henderson's current scheme, the early designs by Huw Thomas Architects contain shops, car parking and affordable housing. However, the new plans retain the antiques market at Kings Walk and scrap a proposed new bus station off The Broadway.

Marcus Binney, SAVE's executive president, told the Chronicle: "We think this is an opportunity to bring new life in an attractive way, which is complimentary to the town in an absolutely vital area."

It came after city bosses rejected the chance to extend their deal with Henderson, raising the possibility that the developer could be ditched from next week.

Unveiling the plans, a SAVE statement added: "A major principle of the scheme is that the new buildings will be no more than three and four storeys, thus preserving the traditional scale of Winchester. This will avoid building heights in any way competing with or intruding on views of the cathedral and maintain the pedestrian-friendly character of the town.

"Huw Thomas's initial bird’s eye view shows how Silver Hill could be brought back to life providing a new focus for the city "As with the Peninsula Barracks scheme SAVE will be working with the best professional advisers to ensure the scheme is fully viable, practical and fundable.

"It will also be designed so that it can be built in stages with individual owners, if appropriate, being involved in the various sites. It would not therefore be dependent on compulsory purchase."

Trustees say construction could begin in 2017, contrasting claims from the council's legal advisors that fresh plans would set the scheme back by six years or more.

Architects will create more detailed plans over the next two months ahead of an outline planning application. SAVE is inviting public feedback.