SIR: It is now nearly five years since many people were engaged in the process that led to the development of the Central Winchester Regeneration Area (Silver Hill) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that was adopted as policy in 2018, and referred to in your article of December 30 'Silver Hill: key stage reached’, and so it is perhaps timely to remember some of the key characteristics of the document. The SPD identified the area under consideration; this has now changed. Most importantly however the SPD envisaged that the area should be developed progressively ‘piece by piece’, not in a piecemeal fashion. For this to be successful an overall plan is essential to identify the different pieces, and ensure that as they are developed they add value to each other; crucial for the long term but also for short term interventions. The SPD also identified key aspects of the character of Winchester, its buildings and importantly the spaces between buildings, the streets and public open spaces, including the waterways, to ensure that they can be reflected in new development.

The SPD was developed following an extensive engagement process that involved many people and organisations from different parts of the city and district; people of different ages and backgrounds, led by an experienced and knowledgeable team of regeneration professionals who understood the importance of engagement and working collaboratively. The whole precess built consensus, no easy task given the troubled background of the project. It was however successful and is one that could be replicated for a number of development projects, including the next stages of planning for Silver Hill.

It is unfortunate that there are now very few council officers, or Cabinet members, who were actively involved in the process but the approach can still be used. Local knowledge and consensus building is important, it leads to better development and contributes to reducing the risk of further challenges from Judicial Review; however to be successful it requires expertise and needs to be well led.

Liz Hutchison,

Clifton Road,