WINCHESTER civic chiefs will rethink allowing a developer to scrap proving 100 affordable homes in the £150 million Silver Hill scheme.

The policy-making Cabinet will look again at seeking to retain a mix of housing in the major redevelopment in the city centre.

The developer Henderson wants to submit a new planning application, making significant change to a scheme that got planning permission in 2009.

Henderson desires to cut the number of homes from 307 to 184; remove affordable provision; remove the bus station; provide a department store; and cut public car parking from 330 to 279 spaces.

Last night at full Council, the ruling Conservatives accepted a Liberal Democrat amendment that seeks to retain the 35 per cent affordable housing in the scheme.

The decision will delay the final approval for Henderson to put in their new application. Henderson were unavailable for comment. Their stance on the new situation was unclear. They have said they will walk away unless they get their way as affordable housing makes the scheme unviable.

The main Silver Hill critic, Cllr Kim Gottlieb, attempted to get councillors to agree to an external review of the finances of the scheme but his amendment was defeated, 7 votes to 37. He said he was disappoited it was rebuffed but please the Cabinet will look again at affordable housing. "It makes sense to examine it again."

The meeting heard there was disquiet over doing away with the bus station and the evolving exclusive nature of Henderson's plans.

Labour group leader Chris Pines said: "I would hate this new scheme to become a gated community for the wealthy. We have to have an idea of inclusiveness."

He said it was likely that there would be no space in Silver Hill for Iceland and Poundland, currently in Middle Brook Street.

Lib Dem Robert Hutchison was unhappy to see fewer homes in the scheme. "We need more people living in the heart of Winchester. This was a golden opportunity to have more people living in the heart of Winchester."

Deputy council leader Victoria Weston said: "The scheme has changed for the better since Henderson took it on. They identified shortcomings and have introduced improvements."

The scheme would not be a concrete monolith but would include an elegant mix of flint and local bricks, she said.

Summing up, council leader Rob Humby said: "As you can see by us accepting the (Lib Dem) amendment affordable housing is a priority for us. We all care about Winchester."

For more on Silver Hill see the Chronicle next Thursday, July 24