WINCHESTER civic chief are breathing new life into the rundown Silver Hill area.

Critics would argue that it was the city council that caused the area to rundown in the first place.

Councillors heard that the area is being rejuvenated following the collapse of the Silver Hill redevelopment scheme last year.

The city council, now the main landowner following compulsory purchase, is revamping the area because a new redevelopment scheme is again years away.

Kevin Warren, head of estates at the council, told the Central Winchester Regeneration Informal Policy Group of a number of improvements.

The former sorting office had been acquired from Royal Mail and Coitbury House was being renovated and a new tenant was being lined up.

The offices above Poundland on Middle Brook Street were also set to be let after standing empty for years. Asbestos has been removed.

All the tenants in Kings Walk have been offered five-year leases. New tenants had moved in to Middle Brook Street, such as Molly's Den, Bits and Pieces and the Sweet Ice Cream Lounge New signs will be installed to improve footfall, said Mr Warren.

The old fountain base will be removed and the area re-paved including the removal of the steps in favour of slopes.

Mr Warren said the new activity would bring in £420,000 income this year. Under Silver Hill the whole area would have been knocked down by now or imminently.

The demolition of the Friarsgate multi-storey car park is going well, said Mr Warren and was due to end on January 31. Then the site would be re-opened at the end of April as a 70-space car park with four disabled spaces and two electric charging points and possibly two car-share spaces.

He praised the contractor as the best he had worked with. There had been no complaints from the public, despite the nearest homes only being 30 yards away across Friarsgate.

The work was being down by robots and dust was dampened down by a fine spray.

The contractors have removed 2,500 tonnes of crushed concrete and 800 tonnes of "rusty steel," said Mr Warren.