THE loss of a £5 million grant may not be permanent, Winchester civic chiefs heard.

The city council lost a £5 million grant towards the Station Approach scheme after a legal challenge from the City of Winchester Trust.

The trust, the city’s main conservation body, temporarily halted the £150 million scheme long enough for the grant from the Enterprise M3 LEP to be lost.

Senior Tory Stephen Godfrey raised the issue at full Council. He asked: “What steps are being taken by the Council to replace the £5m grant from Enterprise M3 LEP to improve the public realm in Winchester which was lost as a direct result of the judicial review of the council’s planning decision on Station Approach?”

Council leader Lucille Thompson replied: “The Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have indicated that they would be receptive to a future funding application for grant for works at Station Approach.

“At this stage, there is no commitment from central government to the details of future funding to LEPs, but we are working closely with EM3 to progress a future bid at the appropriate time. Any other potentially available funding sources will continue to be explored, working closely with Hampshire County Council aligned with the Movement Strategy implementation.”

Asked by Cllr Hugh Lumby about progress, Cllr Anne Weir, cabinet member for local economy, said: “The council is reviewing the options for progressing the office and mixed-use development at Station Approach following the judicial review challenge.

"We remain committed to supporting the local economy through an exemplary, market-leading low-carbon office development, and the Carfax site is ideal for that type of development. Leading the way with a net carbon neutral scheme that delivers new jobs and wider economic regeneration at Station Approach, in support of key elements of the Council Plan, is most important.

"We regret the unnecessary loss of the £5million grant from EM3LEP due to the legal action initiated by the City of Winchester Trust, but will continue to seek external funding.”