SIR: Stephen Brine gets to the heart of the matter in his Letter from Westminster (Chronicle, August 27) for what is needed to achieve urban regeneration and transformation.

Vision, local leadership and ambition are, indeed, critical – as well as needing the right skillsets to deliver. As MP Brine implies, comprehensive urban regeneration is a complex, demanding matter that, as my 30 plus years in this field (almost three yrs til recently in spearheading the Station Approach project for the city council) can vouch for, requires a considerable number of ‘moving parts’ (stakeholder, technical, delivery matters etc) to be successfully addressed to achieve results.

What is equally necessary, and has been abundantly clear in Winchester after failures at both Silver Hill and Station Approach, is to gain majority ‘hearts and minds’ support of interested parties – and, critically, for achieving change in the public interest – rather than ambition be thwarted by minority, vested interest as has been the case with legal challenges to both projects.

Towns and cities need to evolve, adapt and advance. If such change is thwarted, they will never fulfil their fuller potential – a charge that can certainly be levelled in Winchester.

It was a failing that the city council left the door open for successful Judicial Reviews for the two major schemes – though of course it is the motive behind the challenge, as much as the challenge itself, that is to be questioned and needs acting upon. The task for authorities in such a position is to bring leadership and courage to deliver such change – facing and overcoming the minority self-interest whenever put in the way of achieving otherwise democratically agreed change.

As Stephen Brine notes, the post Covid world needing more local/flexible employment presents Winchester with a tremendous opportunity which must not be wasted. The recent LDS designed scheme could, easily, have been adapted to provide smaller, more flexible work spaces within its design – but the graduates and young professionals in the city who want to work in Winchester will, now, have to wait too many years, rather than a completed development being achieved by 2024 had those that wanted to fight off the scheme not done so.

Ian Charie,

Former Head of Programme,

Winchester City Council,