THE Government has removed the final hurdle for the redevelopment of the Silver Hill in Winchester.

Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, has written to the city council approving the compulsory purchase order which will allow the developers to start work.

Mr Pickles said the scheme was in the public interest and would help the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area.

Keith Wood, city council leader, said: “This is good news for Winchester. It allows us to press ahead with much-needed improvements for the Silver Hill area and shows the huge confidence that exists in the economic future of Winchester.

“It has been quite a week for Winchester. On Wednesday Council adopted the Local Plan, meaning that the District is more in control of its planning decisions and its future. Now we have the decision which unlocks a £100m scheme to re-develop a vital part of the city.”

Cllr Wood told the Town Forum: “We met today with the developers and they are very anxious to move the thing through. It’s a fairly old scheme and there are some adjustments we may have to do.”

The CPO was also the subject of 29 objections from residents and pressure groups.

Silver Hill is expected to deliver 200 homes, shops, a bus station and a doctor’s surgery.

An inspector’s report will give more detail on Mr Pickles' decision. The next steps will be for the city council to work on a timetable with development partners, Henderson Global Investors.

Martin Perry, development director at Henderson Property, said: “We are encouraged by the strong support that we have received from the local community, ranging from the business community to the City of Winchester Trust, and look forward to moving ahead with the next stage of development at this exciting scheme.”

The re-development covers six acres - around a quarter of Winchester city centre - and is the largest in the area since the Brooks Centre was built in the 1980s.

Proposals include shops and flats around a network of streets that link Friarsgate and the Broadway. There will be a new public car park and bus interchange. The development will replace the existing surface car parks, bus station and buildings from the 1960s and 70s.

Critics say the scheme is ten years out of date and will loom over and dominate the historic city centre.