Silver Hill redevelopment :: Shared Description

The Silver Hill redevelopment is a scheme to redevelop a run down part of Winchester city. The rectangular site is bounded on the west by The Broadway and the High Street, to the north by Middle Brook Street, and to the east by Friarsgate. In 2003 Winchester City Council entered into an agreement with Thornfield Properties to promote a comprehensive redevelopment with the use of compulsory purchase powers where necessary to complete the site.

Planning consent was granted in 2009 for a scheme including:
287 residential units, with 35% being affordable
Nearly 100,000 square feet of new retail space
18,000 square feet of office accommodation
A new bus station (replacing the one already there)
A new public car park (replacing the Friarsgate multistorey already there)
New public spaces

Before progress could be made, the banks withdrew funding from Thornfield Properties during the credit crunch. Thornfield Properties was taken over by the UK Property fund of Henderson Global Investors, enabling the scheme to go forward. Source: LinkExternal link

By 2014 the scheme had been revised to reflect changing requirements as follows:-
Stagecoach no longer saw a need for a bus station, and preferred two bus stops on the east and west sides of the site.
Increasing the retail space from 100,000 to 150,000 square feet, including 60,000 sq.ft. for a new 'anchor' retail store.
Reduction of residential units from 287 to 184, by building fewer, larger units.
No affordable housing on the site, but the developers instead making a contribution to enable affordable units "up to a maximum of 40%" to be built elsewhere in the city at lower cost.
An increase in private parking spaces from 129 to 180, and a reduction in public parking spaces from 330 to 279.
No youth club space due to the YMCA having already found a suitable space in the nearby St. John's building.
No office space, due to the fact that the NHS no longer has this requirement.
Source: LinkExternal link

In August a meeting of Winchester Council's Cabinet resolved to remove the "up to 40%" affordable housing requirement, and to replace it by a requirement that "the affordable housing provision be that which shall be determined by the Planning Committee based on the current and future viability of the scheme". Source: LinkExternal link Until the Planning Committee made its determination the contribution to affordable housing of the scheme remained unclear, but critics claimed it was likely to be none. The Council were of the view that enabling "the Planning Committee to determine what level of affordable housing could be provided, was the same
process as the Council adopted in other development applications. It should be seen as objective and will consider whether the scheme as a whole can contribute." The Council had a profit sharing agreement with the developers and it would consider if any of its share of the profit could be devoted to affordable housing provision. The developers, in their September 2014 document "Winchester Silver Hill: a vibrant city centre" wrote "On many sites [affordable housing] can be achieved and the development still nets an acceptable profit. But on some sites, such as Silver Hill, the difference is too great and would mean that the development is unviable."

In October 2014, Henderson changed its stance and announced that it would guarantee a £1m contribution to off-site social housing, with a further £1m conditional upon the development achieving a profit of 15%. Source: LinkExternal link

Planning approval for the above changes was sought in August 2014 but was not due to be decided until December 11th. The development was estimated to cost £150 million and hoped to make a £15m profit.

The scheme, which was supported by Conservative-led Winchester City Council, has been controversial, with developer and Conservative Councillor Kim Gottlieb leading objections to it and launching a "Winchester Deserves Better" campaign whose web site is LinkExternal link . The critics claimed that the scheme was out of date, had too much retail space which would undermine the High Street and failed to take account of the growth of internet shopping, that the buildings were too high and out of proportion to their surroundings, that the building facades were uniformly flat and extremely dull, that the Friarsgate frontage was insufficiently attractive for a main traffic route through the city, and that there was insufficient public space within the scheme.
Source: LinkExternal link
Some of these criticisms had been supported by some existing retailers, who wrote a letter to the council in September 2014: Hampshire Chronicle LinkExternal link .

The council replied that the retail aspects of the scheme were supported by consultants, who said that it would be successful and good for the rest of Winchester; issues of scale and height, massing and form were considered very carefully and had been found acceptable to English Heritage; that the redevelopment of the area had been considered for 17 years and now was long overdue, and that further delay resulting from amendment of the scheme would not be desirable; and that developments have to be financially viable or they won't get built. Source: LinkExternal link

In October Cllr. Gottlieb launched a judicial review case against the council. The judge refused permission and ordered Cllr. Gottlieb to pay £7,500 costs to the council. Cllr. Gottlieb said he would appeal. Source: LinkExternal link

Also in October, Liberal Democrat Cllr. Sue Nelmes resigned from the group in order to be free to speak out against the development. She said she regretted approving the original scheme. Elements which encouraged her to do so - the social housing, bus station and lock-up shops for shopkeepers now in King's Walk - had all subsequently been removed from the scheme. Source: LinkExternal link

In November, the High Court allowed Cllr. Gottlieb's judicial review to go ahead on one ground: whether it was unlawful for the Council to allow Henderson to propose changes to the project without it being put out to competitive tender. Source LinkExternal link

On December 11th, the Council's Planning Committee approved the Henderson proposals. source: LinkExternal link

On February 11th 2015 the High Court found in favour of Cllr. Gottlieb and awarded costs against the council. The judge found that the Council acted unlawfully when it accepted changes to the scheme regarding the bus station and affordable homes. With those changes, the scheme should have been put out to EU-wide competitive tender. Source: LinkExternal link Cllr. Gottlieb called upon Cllrs. Rob Humby (leader) and Victoria Weston (deputy leader), and officials Simon Eden (chief executive) and Steve Tilbury (corporate director) to resign. Cllr. Humby said the decision was disappointing and the council was considering whether to appeal. It went against the earlier court decision and the external legal advice the Council had taken. The case for the regeneration of the Silver Hill area had always been strong and had cross-council support. Subsequently the councillors referred to above did resign their offices, and the Council decided not to appeal the court decision.

In May 2015 the developers decided to revive the original 2009 scheme with its bus station and affordable housing, this being the only lawful way of proceeding with the development. This however involved them arguing that the scheme with the bus station and affordable housing was now financially viable, the exact opposite position to that which they had earlier taken. Source: LinkExternal link

In July 2015 the Council voted to allow the developer to continue with the 2009 scheme. Opponents had argued that there were various legal reasons why the Council could terminate its contract with the developer. This would have allowed a fresh competitive tender for a new scheme but might have also involved the Council with a protracted and costly legal tussle with the existing developer. Source: LinkExternal link

In February 2016 a report was published by solicitor Claer Lloyd-Jones who had been appointed by the Council to carry out an independent review of the circumstances culminating in the loss of the judicial review case by the Council. The report found that the Council had received conflicting legal advice from several leading QCs over the years, including in 2010 "advice alerting them to the potential effects of making substantial amendments to the Development Agreement. But the Council had not recorded the 2010 legal advice as a risk in the corporate risk register, nor had any senior officers reminded them of this risk." "In summary, the Council failed to provide itself with adequate assurance systems in order to make safe and legally correct decisions." The report also found that it was unclear what the Council's vision for Silver Hill had been in 2004 and unclear what it was in 2016. Source LinkExternal link

In February 2016 the Council voted to terminate the 2004 Development Agreement on the grounds that the unconditional date and the date for start of works had not occurred by 1 June 2015. That decision effectively killed the Henderson development whilst leaving the 2009 planning permission in place. Henderson complained that the decision had been taken in advance of their appeal of the judicial review decision which was due to be heard in May 2016.

On February 8th the Hampshire Chronicle newspaper published an editorial in which they wrote "This newspaper has for many years supported, with reservations, Silver Hill as a good scheme, if not the perfect one. As the old saying goes, the best is the enemy of the good. But increasingly the only sensible option is to echo the words of those 1980s pop philosophers, Orange Juice: “Rip it up and start again”." Source: LinkExternal link

In January 2017, after a national competition, the Council appointed JTP Architects to produce a Supplementary Planning Document in an attempt to bring to life a new development scheme for Silver Hill. Source: LinkExternal link

See also City of Winchester Trust: LinkExternal link
Daily Echo: LinkExternal link
by Peter Facey
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45 images use this description. Preview sample shown below:

SU4829 : Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Winchester Bus Station by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Winchester Bus Station by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Bus Station by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Winchester Antique & Craft Market by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Friarsgate crosses Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Street named Silver Hill by Peter Facey
SU4829 : St. George's Street looking towards Silver Hill by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Pedestrianised part of Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Street named Silver Hill by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Friarsgate by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Woolstaplers Hall, Tanner Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : St Clement's Surgery, Tanner Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Coitbury House by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Pedestrianised part of Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Cross Keys Passage by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Fab Vintage shop by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Top of Friarsgate Car Park seen from roof of The Brooks Shopping Centre by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Friarsgate car park by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Friarsgate car park, Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Brooks Shopping Centre by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : Pedestrianised part of Middle Brook Street by Peter Facey
SU4829 : King's Walk shopping arcade and Winchester Antiques Market by Peter Facey

... and 20 more images.

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Created: Sat, 20 Sep 2014, Updated: Wed, 11 Jan 2017

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