THE city council is being pressed to delegate its biggest and most troubled regeneration project to a community trust.

A group of nine local professionals are demanding that chiefs pass over their responsibilities for Silver Hill, now known as Central Winchester Regeneration Project.

Former councillor Kim Gottlieb, who derailed the scheme in 2016 and condemned the latest proposals, is spearheading the movement.

He looks to form a trust comprising local professionals to ensure the development is carried out this time. Something similar has been proposed for the Bar End depot.

“Once again, clouds loom over Silver Hill,” he said in a letter, also signed by John Andrews, Rose Burns, Frances Holley, Joanna Lewis, Arthur Morgan, Andy Smith, Tony Walker and Martin Wilson.

“We thought that the 2018 Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) took a big step forwards in the life of the city. Sadly, our hopes have been dashed by an uninspired proposal just revealed by the city council.

“Gone is the idea of having several different developers pitch for parts of the site so as to avoid a uniform approach. Instead, by teaming up with just one developer the council risks a re-run of the Henderson debacle.”

At cabinet on Tuesday, November 10, where the latest plans were approved for consultation, Mr Gottlieb and other councillors criticised their vagueness.

The document roughly shows which parts of the area will be used for what, but specific buildings are yet to be delegated a purpose.

For example, the council wishes to improve the night life for younger people, but has not earmarked which buildings will be bars/clubs.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Central Winchester Regeneration Project proposals 

Mr Gottlieb said: “There are several issues that cause concern, but the best way to describe this proposal is that, in effect, the council is asking a fox to guard the hen house.

“The natural instinct of a developer is to maximise the financial return from the development, and all the smiles and promises in the world won’t change this basic fact.

“On the associated issue of Kings Walk the first thing I note is that the proposal by Turner Works puts the work by the council’s other consultants in the shade. They should be applauded for that and cabinet should take careful note."

Mr Gottlieb added: “However, I think it would be a mistake to effectively sterilise the site for ten years and to retain Kings Walk for that period or longer. That shows a lack of ambition and Winchester really does deserve better.

“All in all, the overall proposal for Silver Hill is too vague and inadequate and too full of pitfalls and I would encourage you, as strongly as I can, to go back and to rethink it again.”

Cabinet members unanimously agreed to sign off the plans.

Cllr Fiona Mather suggested that another consultation period is not necessary, and described CWRP as “the most consulted project ever”.

“When I told my ward members that another consultation phase was to come, they were in disbelief,” she said. “I think we need to get on with it – it has been long enough.”

Most consultation events will be held on the city council’s website and those without internet access can ask for the feedback form to be posted.

Plans to develop the Silver Hill area were first mentioned in 1996.

Over the last two decades, the council has faced many obstacles including the legal battle with Mr Gottlieb. The High Court ruled the council unlawfully handled the scheme by failing to invite bids from more than one developer.