CIVIC chiefs in Winchester have submitted a planning application for a major and long-awaited regeneration project in the city.

The move by the city council marks one of the final hurdles before work can begin on the Station Approach project.

If approved by a planning committee later this year, it would allow the city council to begin work on the scheme to regenerate the area near the railway station.

The application seeks permission for a "mixed-use development involving the erection of buildings up to five storeys from street level, a lower ground floor level and basement to provide up to 17,972 sqm of office [use], up to 1,896 sqm of mixed uses including potential retail, restaurant/cafe, bar and leisure uses and retention and refurbishment of the old registry office, associated car parking in basement (up to 135 spaces) and minimum of 156 cycle parking spaces and associated works".

It comes after councillors on the Winchester City Council’s Station Approach committee rubber-stamped the outline business case for the project.

The committee meeting heard last month that after securing planning permission, a fund will buy a "long leasehold interest" in the site, to which the council would have to pay rent, and after 40 years the property will then revert back to city council ownership.

According to a report that went before the committee, the income strip model would benefit the council as it would not be liable for construction costs and would not need to be involved in a "potentially complicated construction project". However, it would mean the council would have to pay an agreed rent, even if it was not generating income by letting out the office space.

As previously reported, this is the council's second attempt to redevelop the Carfax site and Station Approach areas after a previous scheme was scuppered in 2016. City councillors killed it off because they considered its bulk and height too great.

The scheme, developed by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, is estimated to create 1,000 jobs, with around a further 1,000 coming through construction and indirectly linked positions.

The total project is estimated by the Enterprise M3 LEP to cost £159m, and is set to bring 140,000 square feet of Grade A office space, along with a further 17,000 sq ft of retail, cafe and restaurant space, providing an £81m boost to the local economy.