THE £130 million Silver Hill redevelopment in Winchester has avoided another potential stumbling block.

The developer has reached a deal with Sainsbury’s over the supermarket’s part in the scheme for the land between The Broadway and Friarsgate.

Henderson Global Investors today said it has agreed a pre-letting with Sainsbury’s for a new store of about 18,500 sq ft, on a 25-year lease.

The deal means that the public inquiry into compulsory purchase orders will not now be reconvened.

The public inquiry has closed and the secretary of state’s decision on the CPO is expected by the end of the year.

Martin Perry, development director at Henderson Property, said: “We are delighted to have secured Sainsbury’s long-term presence in the city centre and to this scheme. We are confident that the relocation to the purpose-built modern store within the Silver Hill scheme will be welcomed by Sainsbury’s customers who will be able to enjoy easy access from the new purpose-built scheme car park.”

Henderson says it is now ready to progress with its investment. The scheme covers approximately one quarter of Winchester, within the Roman walls, and is the largest single development since the Brooks Centre in the 1980’s.

The scheme retains original architects – Allies & Morrison, and their design, says Hendersons, will “complement the character of the current architecture of the town”, providing a gross external area of c. 630,000 sq ft.

Critics say the modernist threatens to swamp the historic city centre.

The development comprises shops and homes constructed around a network of streets between the existing High Street and Broadway.Uses will also include a new public car and bus interchange.

The site comprises six acres currently including private surface car parking, the Friarsgate multi-storey car park, bus station and several buildings built in the 1950’s and 60’s.