WINCHESTER council leader Caroline Horrill has revealed the council is open to buying more land in the Silver Hill area, but that more compulsory purchase would be a last resort.

She was speaking as councillors discussed the public consultation over the future of central Winchester area, better known as Silver Hill.

There has been a generally favourable response to the ideas proposed by JTP Architects for relaunching the development which collapsed last year.

Cllr Victoria Weston asked at full Council: "Can the leader confirm that the council is not going down the Compulsory Purchase Order route with regards to the Central Winchester Regeneration Project but allowing the site to be developed organically and ensuring that the council’s finances will not be stretched?”

Cllr Horrill replied: "If an owner of a property in the Central Winchester area wished to sell their interest, the council may consider purchasing this by agreement at market value. Alternatively, we welcome approaches from individuals who want to invest in their property in accordance with the emerging Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

“As members are aware, following the purchase of the bus station, the city council now owns the majority of the land. We have also heard from JTP in the warmly-welcomed presentation (on July 4) that the council could develop the Central Winchester area ‘bit by bit’.

"Our focus is on the development of the SPD to ensure we create a vibrant new quarter for our city. But we will soon turn our attention to how this new quarter can be delivered. There are many options to consider and our officer team will bring them forward for consideration in due course.

"Compulsory purchase was a main theme of the old scheme – but not this one. We have drawn a line, moved on and are pleased that the people of Winchester town are inspired by what we are creating for our city.

"There may be some instances where in order to achieve the wider community development objectives of the area, that a compulsory purchase order may be necessary. However compulsory purchase would only be used as a last resort.

"There has been a great deal of interest in the site as a result of what we have done so far, interest from all sorts of groups

The next meeting of the Informal policy group which is drawing up planning guidance for the area will be on August 1.

Currently technical reports are being prepared on archaeology and flooding risk.

Meanwhile with Station Approach, the council supported by RIBA are looking at application from architects. A report will go to the Cabinet sub-committee on August 14 asking for approval for the winning bidder.