THE regeneration of Silver Hill will take “at least” another decade if a key council decision is overturned in the courts, the project's boss has warned.

Winchester City Council will be forced to spend years repeating the legal wrangles of the £165 million scheme if it loses a judicial review next week, according to Henderson development director Martin Perry.

Legal costs could damage the firm's cash pledge for affordable housing in the city, he added.

Campaigner Cllr Kim Gottlieb is taking his own Tory administration to London's High Court on January 28 to argue that they broke European law when they allowed the firm to propose controversial changes to the major scheme of shops and homes.

Mr Perry told the Hampshire Chronicle that civic chiefs will have to repeat lengthy design, planning, consultation and compulsory purchase processes if the judge rules that they should have put the scheme out to competitive tender.

Hampshire Chronicle:

TIAA Henderson development director Martin Perry

“This has been going on for God-knows-how-long, about 20-odd years trying to get this scheme off the ground," he said.

“That's why I can't for one moment think why you would want to start again. It would take another 10 years at least to get it again.”

Rebuilding the neglected city centre quarter was first touted in 1996 and the developer's amended plans were approved by city planners last month after almost 20 years of debate, protest and legal hurdles.

“I hope it wouldn't kill Winchester, Mr Perry added. “I don't think it would because there's enough tourism to keep it going.

“There will just be a deep and heavy sigh - I can't see in any way how that could be advantageous to the people of Winchester to go through another 10 years - to get where?”

He added that “six-figure” legal bills could dent profits and the £2 million affordable housing payout it promised councillors if it makes a 15 per cent return.

Cllr Gottlieb's three-pronged action against the scheme includes another planned legal offensive and an appeal to local government secretary Eric Pickles to call a public inquiry.

Branding Mr Perry's delay warnings “complete nonsense”, he said: “If the matter was competently managed there's no reason why the development brief could not be updated within a matter of months. The whole scheme could be revisited and put out to the open market within the year.”