A BUS station and discount housing could return to the Silver Hill scheme as developers consider turning back the clock to get the project off the ground.

TIAA Henderson is considering reviving a previous version of the £165 million development with less retail and more social amenity.

Changes made last summer to the plans for shops and homes sparked protest and led to a High Court rebuke.

The revised scheme was frozen last month after a judicial review ruled Winchester City Council unlawfully kept it from public tender, forcing Henderson to appeal and look again at the old scheme.

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Reviving the old plans – cutting retail by more than a third and reintroducing social elements like Dial-a-Ride, affordable housing and a bus station – could get the troubled project back on track before planning permission and land purchase deals expire in early 2016.

Affordable housing – the issue which has sparked the most controversy in the scheme’s recent history – could still be covered by a financial contribution rather than building them on site, according to a new council report.

Henderson or the council can walk away from the deal after June 1. Civic chiefs would then consider finding a new developer or building the scheme itself.

But work might not start on site until at least 2021 if the Guildhall seeks a new developer, according to the council’s legal advisors.

Cllr Gottlieb, who has led a campaign to abandon Henderson and rethink the scheme’s architecture, branded the claim “completely idiotic”.

He told the Hampshire Chronicle: “The council is again taking the advice of people who lead them up the garden path – they are solicitors, not property people.

“The council are in a position where they should be terminating the contract and putting it out to the open market,” he added.

“It’s completely outrageous that they can pretend as if the judgment hadn’t occurred.”

Henderson, which is seeking High Court permission to appeal the judicial review decision, did not respond to requests for comment.