REVAMPED plans for the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market have been approved although it is uncertain whether it will go ahead because of coronavirus.

Planners have approved 112 chalets spread over a much wider area and without the ice rink in the Inner Close.

As a one-off, the chalets, the same number as since 2017, will be located in the Inner Close and also over much of the Outer Close, including the Paddock by the Old Minster, to allow for social distancing between November 19 and December 22.

The planning committee heard that its go-ahead was dependent on Government advice.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Christmas MarketThe Christmas Market

Cllr David McLean raised concerns about the dangers of coronavrius as up to 10,000 people could attend every day for a month, or potentially up to 300,000 people.

"I agree the economy of the city has to be protected but organisers have the duty to protect people going to the event. How are you going to enforce the 'rule of six'? How will you ensure people stay 2m apart? I know these are not planning issues but we are talking about people's lives.

"I have a real worry. Ten thousand people a day going through the site multiplied over four weeks. It's a terrifying opportunity for infection with coronavirus. I can't put my name to something when so many people are going to be at risk."

He abstained in the vote with the other seven councillors approving the plan. The event still has to get a licence and a safety advisory group comprising police, fire service and health agencies was due to meet next week.

Philip Holroyd Smith, enterprise manager at the cathedral, said he was looking at ticketing the event to ensure better control of numbers. A one-way system will ease the flow through the market. The chalets will be spaced 2m apart and none will be opposite another. People entering chalets will have to wear masks. There will be 'track and trace' in specific zones.

"Public safety is at the forefront of what we are doing. We are looking at ticketing the event as a mechanism to control numbers. Our calculations would allow up to 1,100 people an hour on a staggered basis. Nine hours of opening so potential for 10,000 across the day. But I think the likelihood of that is low."

There were nine objections from nearby residents about increased disturbance and loss of privacy.

Steven Partridge, of Paternoster House on Colebrook Street, said: "I'm going to have 10,000 people a day passing my property. I can't see how it is even being thought of. If anybody apart from the Cathedral, I don't think it would be considered.

"Forty or 50 markets have been cancelled because of the virus, not local objections. I'm genuinely quite baffled by the whole thing.

"I don't think this would be a one-off. The cathedral has invested money into the alterations."

The City of Winchester Trust commented, raising concerns about the impact on the views of the cathedral, but did not object as it would be a one-off and no precedent would be set.

Cllr Paula Ferguson, Cabinet member foe the local economy, spoke in support of the application, saying the market provided a huge boost to the local economy.

She told the committee: "It is important to impress on the committee how important the Christmas market is for the local economy. It will be particularly so this year for hospitality and retail businesses seeking to recover after temporary closures. The market has a positive economic impact with a significant increase in the number of people coming to the city. Footfall on the High Street increases by 25 per cent. Three quarters of our visitors come to the Christmas market."

Cllr Ferguson said unemployment in Winchester was three times higher than this time last year and the market would create between 50-100 jobs.

Committee chairman Therese Evans said: "Times are very dire, and the Christmas market, if we can work out safety issues, will lighten the mood for the residents and people who come into the city."