PROGRESS is being made over the future of a major building in the heart of Winchester.

An architect has been appointed to revamp Coitbury House that has stood empty for several years following the collapse of the Silver Hill scheme.

Now civic chiefs are taking steps to refurbish the former 1960s medical services building on Friarsgate and bring it back to office use.

Councillors on the Cabinet (Central Winchester Regeneration, CWR) Committee met on Tuesday (27 November) and approved the selection of Henley Halebrown.

The building will be refurbished to create 10,000 thousand square feet of high-quality office. The designs will be flexible to enable the building to react to market forces by being let as a whole or to multiple tenants. This may include potentially adding a floor or extending the building.

Caroline Horrill, council leader, said: “I am delighted that within a few months of the Supplementary Planning Document for the area being finalised we are in a position to get on with refurbishing Coitbury House. It follows our refurbishment of the former Antique Market into The Nutshell arts venue which opened last month.”

Henley Halebrown has undertaken many office refurbishment and extensions and broader adaptive reuse projects across the UK.

Its co-founder, Simon Henley, who lives in Winchester, said: “As a local resident, I am well aware of this building’s significance within the wider regeneration plans in the city and so I am very excited by the potential of this project and delighted to be a part of this important step in the area’s redevelopment.”

The CWR committee also agreed a feasibility study for a pop-up site next to the bus station that could be used for start-up businesses.

At the committee, Anna Harding and Harriet Moms, from The Nutshell, gave an update on how they are settling into their new premises.

The Nutshell recently moved into the former Antique Market, thanks to the council’s work to make empty property available for short-term ‘meanwhile’ uses.

The committee members also received updates from the three advisory panels that were set up to focus on Coitbury House, the temporary 'meanwhile uses' and Lower High Street and Broadway public realm.

A brief for a strategic development advisor was also commented on ahead of its presentation for approval by Cabinet on December 12. The council believes an experienced planner is needed to oversee the various major development such as Station Approach and the CWR.

The vision for the Central Winchester Regeneration area is for the delivery of a mixed-use, pedestrian friendly quarter that is distinctly Winchester and supports a vibrant retail, cultural and heritage offer which is set within an exceptional public realm and incorporates the imaginative re-use of existing buildings.

The 4.5 hectare area within the city centre includes the bus station, which Winchester City Council purchased in 2017; The Broadway; St Clements Medical Centre; Kings Walk; Friarsgate Car Park; the former Antique Market building and the Woolstapler’s Hall.

Architects appointed to design the refurbishment of key central Winchester building