New Leader sets out approach to Silver Hill

The new Leader of Winchester City Council has explained his approach to key forthcoming decisions about the £150m Silver Hill redevelopment.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey says the City Council has the chance to view the issue with fresh eyes and ought to be guided by what is best for Winchester.

Cllr Godfrey said:

Much of the recent debate and coverage has been dominated by fine details of legal process.

The crucial issue – and the one that should guide our decisions – is whether any given scheme is the best for Winchester. This means a scheme that regenerates a run-down part of the city, provides affordable housing and retail opportunities, caters for public transport, delivers appropriate architecture, improves the public realm and – importantly – can be funded.

This is not about whether one possible scheme is better than another. The only matter that the Council needs to think about is what options exist right now to meet today’s needs. For many years, redevelopment of the run-down Silver Hill area has included elements such as the bus station and affordable housing, replacement of existing retail space and car parking, as well as improvements to the public realm and retention of a city centre GP practice. I believe that most people think these elements remain crucial and the Council now needs to make sure that any proposal can deliver these essential aims.

Cllr Godfrey welcomed recent alternative drawings put forward by local architects as a valuable contribution to the debate, but said he could not ignore important elements such as the location of a bus station, how a scheme could be afforded or when it might be delivered.

Cllr Godfrey said:

I welcome all contributions to the debate but I make no excuses for promising that I and my Cabinet colleagues will urge Council to consider the whole Silver Hill site and all the reasons for redeveloping it, which include public transport, support for the local economy and practical issues of affordability and timescale alongside matters of aesthetics and housing.