WINCHESTER civic chiefs united to show they will not be rushed into making a hasty decision on the future of the £165 million Silver Hill development.

There was cross-party support for a Lib Dem motion at Council that no changes will be made to the deal with developer TIAA Henderson Real Estate until the independent review on decision-making has reported.

Claer Lloyd-Jones is undertaking that review following the defeat of the city council and Henderson in the High Court over procurement issues, in an action brought by councillor Kim Gottlieb.

Cllr Gottlieb tonight proposed that no action be taken on Silver Hill until Ms Lloyd-Jones has reported.

The timing of her work could be crucial as June 1 is the date when the development agreement between the council and Henderson can become unconditional, locking both parties into the scheme.

Henderson is currently considering its options and frustrating council leader Frank Pearson who said on Wednesday: “I have every intention of asking Henderson what on earth they are doing.”

Cllr Gottlieb said: “What we do know, is that if we let the review be overtaken by events, events such as the 2004 Agreement becoming unconditional within the next eight weeks, so that the council finds itself unable to put any single recommendation into effect, the whole review could become a completely meaningless exercise.

“At that point the council would look very foolish, and the public would be rightly outraged.  They would regard the commissioning of the review as a sham, something that was never intended to have any use or purpose.  They will say that the council was only pretending to respond to a judgment that found it was in serious breach of procurement regulations.”

Cllr Gottlieb withdrew his motion in favour of a Lib Dem one that allows the council more flexibility.

Lib Dem councillor Martin Tod said it was important that the council looked into the question as to how Henderson had flip flopped over whether the approved 2009 scheme was viable or not.

The Lib Dem motion called for no decision until Ms Lloyd-Jones reports but also the seeking of two external opinions on those viability calculations.

Cllr Sue Nelmes said it was important to wait for the Lloyd-Jones report: “We ought to know what we do wrong before we set foot on a rather slippery slope over again.”

Council leader Frank Pearson supported the Lib Dem motion. He said: “I don’t know what Henderson’s intentions are. There is a lot of speculation, some possible right, some absolutely wrong.

“That is why I have every intention of asking Henderson what on earth they are doing. It is for them to approach us and they haven’t as yet.”