SIR: Over the 20 years or so we have been waiting for Silver Hill to be developed, there have been several changes in the makeup of council committees and even changes in political parties in charge. Have they been responsible for the delays? Or, due to many changes in council senior officers, have they been responsible? Money has been spent, and various consultants retained, and we still are not much further ahead.

If one looks at Winchester maybe uncharitably, most of the derelict, sadly unlooked after areas around the city are council-owned.

This seems, to me, to be very poor stewardship of supposed assets held in common for us all. Answers, excuses, reasons are not needed, but some action really is. Winchester has a large supply of talented people who could help with the master plans/design statements required so badly - we can help in partnership with the council - if asked!

Terry Gould,

Fairfield Road,



SIR: Having two top flight architects working in the city I have often wondered why the city council, in their wisdom have chosen not to involve them in the plans for Silver Hill? Very sadly we lost Huw Thomas, one of these architects recently. I remember some time ago seeing his suggested drawings for the development which, if my memory serves me correctly were largely ignored by the council. His suggestion to reinvent the old bus garage (sadly now demolished) to create a continental style covered market was a great idea as was opening up the old underground water ways. What a wonderful legacy that would have been if his plan had been taken forward.

It was therefore with something almost approaching encouragement that I read in the recent edition of the Chronicle that the council are now meeting Hugh Petter from Adam Architects to discuss their ideas and plans for the site. Is this truly their Epiphany moment? We can but live in hope.

Sue Larcombe,


SIR: Back in the 1970s and 80s - before my time in Winchester - the newly formed council (after reorganisation in 1974) had a chief planner called Jack Thompson, who had come from Hampshire County Council.

I don’t know the full story, but one of his acts, following the abandonment of schemes for inner ring roads etc., was to buy a lot of historically important property for the City’s portfolio. Some of this has since been sold, encouraged by a combination of cuts and government policy to disinvest, but because of him Winchester still has significant buildings like Chesil Rectory, Godbegot House, the Barn Store in Abbots Barton, and more.

This comes to mind now as Winchester City Council announces plans to spend £10m on land for council housing while planning to sell the Bar End depot for about the same amount. Wouldn’t it be quicker and cheaper to build on the depot site? There could even be something like a Community Development Trust, or scope for self-build (Rent rates to rise for council tenants, Chronicle, February 18). There’s Upper Brook Street car park, sold to a developer for a new surgery based on a plan conceived years ago, before the pandemic and before the High Street started to empty out partly because of government-imposed rises in business rates.

Now the biggest single site on the High Street is about to fall vacant. I’d like to think Jack Thompson would have bought the Debenhams site (which incidentally belongs to Surrey County Council, in another around of government policy, this time to diversify investments). Other people have suggested housing there - the value of the view of the cathedral from the penthouse flat would surely cross-subsidise the rest - but it could also provide a wellness centre, including a new surgery, on the principles put forward by the Social Market Foundation last month.

The council’s own Vision consultation last year concluded that there was a need for culture change at all levels. There’s plenty of good practice and research on the good society available if only members and officers were open to it.

Judith Martin,

Romsey Road