WINCHESTER City Council has been questioned whether it will continue to use Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) over the emerging Silver Hill scheme within the new local plan.

SPDs are used to ensure there is no uncertainty around issues such as massing, height, mix, design and quality of development in the scheme also known as the Central Winchester Regeneration.

But there is now uncertainty as the Government has decided to get rid of them and the city council is seeking legal clarity.

In June 2018, the city council approved the SPD for central Winchester, with input from more than 3,000 people, after the cancellation of the first Silver Hill project in 2016. It was considered successful giving many people to chance to influence how Silver Hill might be developed.

Fresh plans are currently being drawn up.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, Conservative group leader, asked the full Council meeting if the SPD would be adopted as part of the new local plan, saying: “The SPD sets out the vision, objectives and Planning and Urban Design framework for any future development of the Central Winchester Regeneration area and the desire to reset the development agenda.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Caroline HorrillCllr Caroline Horrill (Image: Newsquest)

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“The document has been used to provide planning advice and guidance to the selected developer for regeneration within this part of the Winchester city centre. The adoption of the SPD means it became a material consideration in the determination of any planning application within the central Winchester area as identified in the SPD.

“With the emergence of a new local plan can the portfolio holder please confirm that the CWR SPD will be adopted as part of the new Reg 19 draft local plan and ensure that the appropriate steps will be actioned before the adoption of the new local plan so that there is no uncertainty and gap between the current and new local plans?”

Cllr Jackie Porter, cabinet member for place and local plan, said: “The SPD sits at the heart of our plans to regenerate central Winchester. As a piece of planning guidance, it remains in force until the new Local Plan has passed through inspection and been agreed.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Jackie PorterCllr Jackie Porter (Image: Contributed)

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“Our wish is that we would be able to update it as needed to sit alongside the new Local Plan as soon as this is finally agreed. However, it will be difficult to carry over the SPD into the Local Plan when Parliament has decided to abolish SPDs in future Local Plans.

“As we seek legal advice, one of our questions will be how we carry forward the policies of the SPD into our new Local Plan. Will we be able to do this via Supplementary Plans? Or do we need some other mechanism? Or have the changes to legislation made it altogether impossible?

“As soon as we have clearer guidance from Government and confirmation of the details of their plans for Supplementary Plans, we will let members know how we intend to proceed.”