PROPOSALS for flats for the elderly in Winchester are set to be strongly opposed by local people.

The city council is exploring building 50 ‘extra care’ flats on the Chesil Street open air car park, the Cabinet heard yesterday (December 4). But local businessmen David Nicholson voiced his opposition, saying the plan would deprive his customers of a place to park near his Black Boy pub, Michelin-starred Black Rat restaurant and Black Hole bed and breakfast currently under construction.

Mr Nicholson said: “That is where my customers park. If you get rid of it I could lose customers.”

He suggested the council redevelop “the Chesil Street Multi-storey or Avalon House that has stood empty for six years and cost the taxpayers £1.5m in lost rent.”

Steve Tilbury, corporate director, said the nearby multi-storey was under-used “within spitting distance”and could be improved with better signing.

Andrew Palmer, head of new homes delivery, said several sites has been looked at and ruled out, including the cattle market and Bar End depot, as too far out and Avalon House on Chesil Street as too small.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, Conservative portfolio holder for finance, said: “Several sites have been identified as being too far from the city centre. What is too far?”

He said Chesil Street was 500m from the centre whist the Cattle Market was 800m but closer to banks and a supermarket.”

He said the flats were intended for the relatively fit elderly. “Eight hundred metres as opposed to 500m doesn’t sound like very much for people trying to live and independent life.”

Cllr Godfrey asked for more detail on the advice from the county council that led to Chesil Street being identified as the preferred site.

Steve Tilbury, corporate director, said: “Elderly people do not want to be shunted out to the far reaches of a town. We have a growing elderly population and we have to make housing provision for a growing need. You have to address the need and bite the bullet.”

Chief executive Simon Eden said a shop fronting onto Chesil Street could be part of a scheme.

Cllr Robert Hutchison, Liberal Democrat, said Chesil Street was the right place for the housing but said the development gave a chance to improve the road.

Labour group leader Chris Pines said Barfield Close could become the main road turning Chesil Street into a “kind of cul-de-sac.”

Cllr Pines suggested the St Peter car park off Gordon Road, which was only supposed to be a temporary car park in the 1980s, would be better for ‘extra care’ Council leader Keith Wood said the parents of children of St Bede primary school may have something to say about that idea.