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Council gives green light to securing development partner for major city centre transformation

Winchester City Council has approved plans to identify and secure a development partner to help deliver its vision for the Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) area. 

The vision will see the transformation of a key part of the centre of Winchester, bringing significant benefits to people living and working in and around the district, including the delivery of high quality homes, new flexible workspaces, retail and leisure facilities and an attractive public realm.

The council has committed to working with a private sector partner to realise the redevelopment of Winchester Bus Station, Kings Walk, the old Friarsgate Medical Centre and Coitbury House. The vision, as set out in the agreed CWR Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), is to deliver a vibrant, mixed-use destination which is highly sustainable; reducing reliance on cars in the city centre whilst adding to Winchester’s already rich and varied heritage and cultural offer.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Cabinet Member for Housing and Asset Management, said:

“This landmark decision represents a fantastic opportunity for Winchester and sends out a strong message to the UK investor community that we mean business. After many years of detailed public consultation, the council and the public have demonstrated a shared vision and have jointly articulated our ambition to drive forward and achieve this transformational opportunity.

“In common with many towns and cities across the UK with strong heritage offers, Winchester has the opportunity to ‘reinvent’ itself as a place that will be more attractive to investors and occupiers, adapting for the twenty-first century, while expanding its cultural offer. We have a town centre with the potential to accommodate a wider-ranging retail element that is not so heavily reliant on car-borne shoppers and we – together with those who live and work here – want to invigorate our city centre offer by encouraging fresh faces to choose Winchester.  Building on the presence of our world-class universities, our chosen development partner will support us as we explore ways to make sure the city has a strong offer for younger people, encouraging them to stay in the city despite high house prices and a shortage of appropriate homes.

“As part of our aspiration for the city, we will be seeking a partner with the right skills, resources, commitment, approach and a proven track record with similar projects, to deliver our vision and investment objectives for the development of central Winchester. Right now, it feels like there has never been a better time to live, work or invest in Winchester.”

Cllr Lucille Thompson, Leader of Winchester City Council said:

“This is one of the best opportunities for decades for a development partner to work with the city council to transform the central area of Winchester.  In the wake of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we now stand poised to create a new vibrancy in our city through a major regeneration project which puts sustainability at its heart. 

“The CWR proposals help to address head on the very real challenges of reinvigorating and stabilising a High Street economy – both commercially and through a wider cultural offer. This will integrate city centre living with an improved retail offer, deliver sustainable transport options which actively reduce our carbon footprint and retain young people in Winchester though innovative employment options and a greater focus on creating a buoyant night-time economy. We are committed to working closely with an innovative and forward-looking development partner.

“As the procurement process moves ahead, I believe we will be able to attract bidders of the highest calibre who recognise the advantages of delivering a scheme in one of the UK’s most attractive locations supported by a clear, readymade development framework.”

The Cabinet previously approved the CWR business case on 22 December 2021. This sets out the viability of the proposals for the site and forms a key element in the documents which will be made available to potential development partners once the procurement process goes live. 

Following today’s decision, the council is inviting developers and investors with a provisional interest in the CWR proposal to contact John East/Veryan Lyons on 01962 848313 or at vlyons@winchester.gov.uk for an initial discussion on the nature of the development opportunity in advance of the publication of a formal invitation to tender.

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