THE dispute between preservation watchdogs and Winchester City Council over the Station Approach scheme flared up again at the town forum.

The City of Winchester Trust took the city council to a judicial review over it granting of planning permission for the £150 million Station Approach office scheme.

The action prompted the council to admit that it had acted unlawfully.

Last week the Chronicle reported cabinet member Kelsie Learney as saying: “We have been undertaking a review of our relationship with the City of Winchester Trust. It is difficult to develop a partnership with somebody who takes you to judicial review without notifying you first.”

Patrick Davies, a senior member of the trust and former Labour city councillor, but speaking in a personal capacity, took issue at the town forum last Thursday: “I saw the unfortunate comment made by Cllr Learney in which she downgrades and criticises the City of Winchester Trust. It is important that all local organisations are actively involved in this process and not discouraged because the council perceives them as being hostile.

“I need to remind members that in that dispute which went to the High Court the council agreed with the line the trust was taking. They acceded to the complaint that the council had not acted lawfully, yet somehow Cllr Learney goes on arguing somehow that the council was right and the everyone else was wrong.”

Cllr Learney replied: “At no point did we suggest the council had not made mistakes in the planning process. However the issues were around the approach the trust took in not communicating about the judicial review before it took place. The point I’m making is that it is rather hard to work very closely with organisation which doesn’t communicate these kind of issues to you.”

Cllr Learney said she expected the trust to be consulted over the new vision for Winchester like other local organisations.

A Lib Dem councillor Kim Gottlieb, the man whose legal action derailed the Silver Hill scheme in 2016, criticised his own party over the issue. In a letter to the Chronicle, he wrote: “The trust has access to expertise which the council does not have. The council should be seeking the trust’s help rather than berating it in press releases.”