The controversial £165M Silver Hill regeneration in Winchester has taken a big step forward with planning approval granted by the city council for the revised scheme that is still the subject of a legal challenge to its procurement process.
The legal challenge will be in court in January, led by a local Conservative councillor, but the schemes backers still hope to get work under way in early 2015.
The scheme covers a run down area of some 2.3 hectares in central Winchester, including a bus station, the Friarsgate car park and a medical centre. Planning permission was originally granted in 2009 but was held up by the financial crisis.
The scheme aims to regenerate the area with new retail, residential and public space provided by developer TIAA Henderson Real Estate. The revised scheme approved by the council drops an obligation to provide a bus station and 100 social housing units as part of the development. Instead, the developer will make a £1M contribution to the council towards social housing to be provided elsewhere and the bus station will be replaced by an on street interchange and a department store.
A council spokesman said the High Court hearing is to consider only the issue of procurement, whether under European procurement law the Council can approve the changes without undertaking a new procurement exercise.
A council spokesman said: “The decision to do so was taken in the light of legal advice from independent Counsel which confirmed that the Council could agree the changes in the manner that it did.”