BUSINESS leaders have urged civic chiefs to be ‘big and bold’ in a major Winchester project.

That call came after Winchester City Council met businesses and cultural and creative entrepreneurs at a workshop to share ideas and desires for how best to use the under-utilised space on the Winchester Bus Station site.

Owned by the city council, the site forms part of the Central Winchester Regeneration project area, commonly known as Silver Hill 2 and has been identified as a possible location for ‘meanwhile’ use opportunities.

As previously reported, plans have been floated by the city council to turn the space into a hub for food and retail pop-up businesses, similar to those in York and London.

The bus station will eventually be vacated by the buses, which, according to the scheme’s supplementary planning document, could relocate to the Middle Brook Street car park.

More than a dozen businesses and entrepreneurs were invited to the council’s recent workshop. During the two-hour event, there was an emphasis on listening and openness to the ideas and suggestions shared.

According to a city council spokesman, there was also a “strong appreciation” of the big picture for the site, recognising it as a real opportunity to deliver positive benefits for the economy and residents of the Winchester district.

The attendees encouraged the council to be “big and bold” in its regeneration plans.

The next steps of the project will see the suggestions from the event considered as part of feasibility study on the bus station site, the result of which will then be shared with potential bidders to carry out the work.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, council leader and chairman of the CWR committee, said: “Getting the site into use as a vibrant part of the city centre is a key consideration for this area, and a key aspect of the Central Winchester Regeneration project.

“We wanted to involve local entrepreneurs to understand their needs and for them to share their experience."