A CONTROVERSIAL Winchester development has rattled local businesses with many citing issues with parking and overcrowding.

Members of the Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) raised concerns about the £130m Silver Hill scheme including problems with over-capacity and parking.

Business owners at the annual general meeting on Thursday (April 10) said the development could potentially draw in too many people with some making comparisons to the city at Christmas.

One business owner, Tony Whyman, said that the introduction of new businesses and the removal of the Chesil Street surface car park could be a recipe for disaster.

Mr Whyman, who runs Childhood’s Dream in the Brooks, said: “We as a unit need to keep on top of all these developments. What are we going to do to make sure these are positive? There’s so much going on here.”

Chris Turner, BID executive director, said: “When people stop talking to each other, that’s when it goes wrong. At the end of it there will be some really enticing sites and that must be better than people not coming here at all.”

Diane Stables, of Winchester Kitchens, said: “We haven’t made it to the Christmas market for the last two years because it has been so busy, particularly on Saturdays when it has been bedlam. We really got to the point where it was detrimental to the beautiful city that this is.

“Car parking recently has been a real problem and we’ve had clients feeding back that they’ve had issues.”

However, Annabelle Boyes, receiver general of Winchester Cathedral, defended the issues raised with overcrowding and said everything was being done to ensure people’s safety.

“It’s not just about Christmas, it’s about the whole year,” she said. “We have been working with the council and other partners and we have cameras that monitor the amount of people in the city.

“I’d like to reassure people that every hour is monitored for people’s safety.”

Mr Whyman said: “We have got to balance the increased amount of people coming in with the closing of car parks and that’s what the BID needs to be totally committed to.”

Silver Hill inlcudes new shops, flats, car parks on land between Friarsgate and The Broadway.