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Allies and Morrison Winchester scheme faces High Court challenge

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A councillor fighting a £165million Allies and Morrison-designed redevelopment of Winchester city centre has been granted a judicial review into his own authority’s proceedures

The architects’ controversial proposals for the city’s Silver Hill area originally won planning permission in 2009 and feaured 287 new homes, offices, shops, health facilities, and a new bus station.

However new revisions proposed for the 2ha project, which is being backed by Henderson Global Investors, would scrap the scheme’s bus station and reduce the number of homes to 177 – removing all on-site affordable housing.

The revised designs have yet to be rubberstamped, but opponent councillor Kim Gottlieb was this week granted the right to challenge Winchester City Council’s decision to approve a reworked development agreement for the site.

Gottleib, who runs the Winchester Deserves Better campaign website and is also managing director of developer London & Bath Group, has criticised the Allies & Morrison proposals as ‘dreary and  monolithic’.

He said: ‘The general design principles need to reflect the smal plot scale and incremental development that typifies the rest of the city centre, and that can be expressed in either modern or period styles, just so long as the architecture has integrity and is worthy of a major city centre.’

Gottlieb’s victory this week in securing a full hearing means that a High Court judge will hear detailed legal arguments over whether European procurement rules allow the council to approve the changes to the development agreement for the site without undertaking a new procurement exercise.

A statement from Winchester said the decision by its cabinet had been guided by external legal advice, and that it would not put the latest planning applications connected with the scheme on hold.

It said: ‘The council’s legal team will now be preparing for the full hearing of the challenge in the new year.

‘The legal arguments on this point do not affect the council’s ability to determine the planning applications now before it, and therefore at this stage there are no plans to alter the date on which the council is scheduled to determine these.’

The council added that Gottlieb had failed in securing a judicial review into two other areas of concern that he raised.

Allies and Morrison has been working on various proposal for the city centre site for almost a decade. In 2011, the urban design branch of Robert Adam’s practice unveiled an alternative to Allies and Morrison’s plans which were branded ‘too massive [and] too anonymous’ (see AJ 07.09.11).

Previous story (AJ 09.04.2013)

CPO victory for Allies and Morrison’s contentious Winchester plans

Developer Henderson Global Investors has been granted a compulsory purchase order for a huge chunk of Winchester paving the way for Allies and Morrison’s controversial Silver Hill development

The £135 million retail-led city centre scheme won planning permission back in 2007 for previous project backer Thornfield Ventures. Henderson took over the 55,000m² development after Thornfield’s demise in 2010 but kept the scheme on the shelf for more a year.

In September 2011 Henderson resurrected the project and began the Compulsory Purchase Order process prompting Robert Adam’s practice to come up with an alternative to Allies and Morrison’s ‘too massive [and] too anonymous’ proposals (see AJ 07.09.2011).

Following the decision by the Secretary of State, Henderson is looking to begin construction of the long-running proposal early next year (2014).

The scheme will cover almost a quarter of Winchester and is being billed as the largest single development in the historic city since the Brooks Centre was built in the 1980’s.

Martin Perry, development director at Henderson Property said: ‘Winchester is heavily under developed relative to its location and its dominant position in the South East retail hierarchy. To date, the City has experienced a lack of modern retail units that meet the needs of national and international retailers.We are confident that the provision of new space in the city, will significantly boost the retail offer further and help drive growth in the city, retaining expenditure rather than losing footfall to other nearby competing centres such as Southampton.’

Previous story (AJ 02.09.2011)

Allies and Morrison’s contentious Winchester plans resurrected

Developer Henderson Global Investors has kick-started Allies and Morrison’s controversial and long-running Silver Hill development in Winchester

The £135 million retail-led scheme won planning permission back in 2007 for previous project backer Thornfield Ventures. However, after Thornfield went into adminstration in early 2010, Henderson took over the 55,000m² city centre scheme but kept the scheme on the shelf until July this year to allow a ‘post-acquisition, conditional period’ to run out.

Now the developer has officialy re-started the scheme and intends to take the project, which covers almost a quarter of the historic cathedral city, through a potentially tricky Compulsory Purchase Order process (see AJ 16.04.2007).

According to Martin Perry, Henderson’s director of retail property development, this inquiry could take around 15 months. Perry confirmed the company intended to stick with the Allies and Morrison scheme - a redesign of an original proposal which was redrawn in 2006 following pressure from locals.

He said: ‘Obviously there may be a few changes, such as to the timber facade treatment, but in principle we intend to take the consented, detailed scheme through to construction.

‘We will also be looking at alterations to the retail units sizes and some of the phasing for the residential units. But we are not anticipating a wholesale redesign.

‘An application like this costs around £7-£8 million and we just can’t afford to respend that sort of money.’

He added: ‘It is a good scheme and Allies and Morrison has done a pretty good job. I’m impressed with what they’ve done.’

Perry admitted Henderson’s ‘favoured route’ was design and build and predicted Allies and morrison would be retained in an ‘executive monitoring role’ once the scheme moved toward construction, possibly as early as 2013.

The director of property also added that there was a likelihood of ‘spin-off work’ for other practices, in particular for the overhaul of other, neighbouring buildings once the development was taking shape.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Quite apart from the general issues being raised, if the proposed new revisions include scrapping the scheme's bus station, what's going on in Winchester?
    I can think of other southern English towns where bus stations have been scrapped, to the distinct disadvantage of the travelling public.

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