IT HAS been more than 25 frustrating years since the Central Winchester Regeneration project first came about – and now the city council has unveiled its latest direction.

At an open forum on Monday, dozens of residents were told that the scheme, once called Silver Hill, would have a ‘final concept’ plan in place by autumn 2020, and that archaeological work would start before the end of the year.

The audience heard from Katie Kopec, of consultants JLL, as she presented ideas, with three main ‘themes’. The public were then invited to provide feedback on post-it notes.

But former city councillor Karen Barratt, who has lived in the city for 47 years, said she had “seen this all before”. She added: “Doesn’t this feel like Groundhog Day? There are more options and more consultations, but when is this madness going to end?”

The first of the three ‘themes’, branded as ‘Business Not-as-Usual’, features flexible workspaces, campus-style offices, an independent trade hub, a hotel and affordable housing/build to rent schemes.

The second, ‘Homes For All’, has co-living spaces, care and retirement accommodation, affordable housing, a gym and premium residential units.

Finally, ‘Destination Max’ focuses on cultural activities and would see a museum, a space for events and a cinema.

Ms Kopec said: “We know the options are extreme versions. With all of the feedback we will take bits and pieces from each and make sure this project is a hybrid of everything that Winchester needs. It’s also about bringing the bits that do make money and the bits that don’t, together.”

All three of the proposed ‘themes’ are designed to help “fill the gap” of young people moving from the city after turning a certain age. The number of 24 to 34-year-olds in Winchester is far lower than the national average, and the number of 65+ year olds higher.

Winchester-born and bred Aaron Moraghan, 23, said: “There aren’t many young people here tonight and the ones who are here happened to hear about it by chance or in the local newspaper. If the council really want more young people to get involved they should be advertising on social media and online.

“Not all young people in the city are students, either. We all need to be heard.”

A few questions were heard at the end of the meeting but a number of attendees, including ward councillor Kim Gottlieb, were disgruntled when chairman Cllr Kelsie Learney said there was not time for any more.

An online consultation form will be available from the city council website in the next week.

The Central Winchester Regeneration scheme was first introduced in 1996 when a study found potential redevelopment in the Broadway-Friarsgate area.