A MAJOR Winchester scheme could benefit the local economy by as much as £81 million, new forecasts have predicted.

Work is currently under way by Winchester City Council to progress the second incarnation of the Station Approach development, which aims to revamp the area around Winchester railway station.

This week a report went before the city council’s Station Approach committee, outlining the predicted economic effects of the development.

Civic chiefs hired consultants Grant Thornton to carry out economic assessments, the results of which claims Winchester would significantly benefit from the introduction of the proposed Grade A office space at the Carfax site, based opposite the station.

The council engaged the services of Grant Thornton to carry out economic assessments of the project and its analysis demonstrates that Winchester would significantly benefit from the introduction of the proposed Grade A Office space.

Its findings also show that development of the Carfax site could generate a large number of new jobs, resulting in a substantial contribution to the local economy.

The estimated benefits include the creation of around 1,000 jobs in the city centre, with a further 400 indirect jobs, a significant number of shorter-term construction employment opportunities, and a financial boost from the supply chain in the local area.

The local economic benefit is estimated at £81m

The city council says other social benefits include offering Winchester residents the chance to work in the city, improving work-life balances and reducing commuting.

A spokesman said a number of companies are continuing to express interest in taking offices at Carfax and boards to promote the office space will be erected at the site over the coming weeks.

As well as the offices, the council has submitted a £5m grant bid to the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership to fund improvements to the scheme’s public realm.

The spokesman said: “These improvements will create a fitting gateway to the city and deliver an enhanced setting for the proposed development. They will also improve movement around the station, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists as well as for public transport and taxi users, in accordance with the objectives of the city’s draft Movement Strategy.”

Steve Miller, chairman of the Station Approach committee and portfolio holder for estates, said: “This independent economic analysis demonstrates that the development of a high-quality office scheme at Station Approach will provide a major boost to the local economy by creating jobs and increasing trade for the businesses in the area.

“There will also be wider benefits that will act as a catalyst for other improvements at this Gateway location.

“We look forward to moving the project forward to the next stage to bring these benefits a reality.”

However, the scheme has not had complete support.

As previously reported, a prominent member of Winchester’s heritage community told committee members in October the plans would result in “dead street frontage” and more traffic problems for the city centre.

John Hearn, who was speaking of behalf of the City of Winchester Trust, added “the latest proposals are unacceptable”.