City councillors have decided to look again at options for developing the Station Approach area of Winchester.
A full meeting of Winchester City Council (July 20) decided not to endorse a previous Cabinet decision for development of the area around the station.
Despite strong evidence of the need for Grade A office space and that up 20,000 more people would be looking for jobs in Winchester during the next 15 years, the Council was concerned that the proposed scheme would not be right for Winchester.
The Cabinet was told that the scheme would create more than 1,000 local jobs and safeguard hundreds more with businesses that want to expand in Winchester but cannot find the office space to do so.
The opportunity to support the local economy is driving the Cabinet to look at what needs to be done to move the development forward successfully, taking members and the public with them.
Cllr Stephen Godfrey, the Leader of Winchester City Council, said: “The provision of modern office space in the centre of Winchester is really important to the business community. While this delay is unwelcome, we will take the opportunity to strengthen the scheme and bring it back in a better form in the near future. The Council is working with Hampshire County Council on transport issues and movement around the city. This work will be reflected in the Station Approach proposals.
There is widespread support for the principle of developing the area, but there remain significant differences about exactly how this ought to be achieved. The whole Council wants to make sure that any proposals work for Winchester and help Winchester to work.
Catherine Turness, Executive Director at Winchester BID says:
“Winchester BID’s reaction to Winchester City Council’s decision not to proceed with moving forward on the Station Approach development at this current time is one of sheer disappointment and frustration.
19 councillors opposed moving forward with a process that allowed for further engagement and the vital development of a design, not a fully-blown scheme, which was solving a major issue of growth restriction for current employers in the city. We are in real danger of losing some internationally renowned businesses, many of whom have invested in this community and developing local talent for decades. These businesses need premises to expand and without this development, there is little alternative but for them to leave the city.
We urge the Council to concentrate on finding way forward immediately for these businesses – without one they are stifling the future growth of Winchester and may well be responsible for the beginning of what may be the economic decline of this vibrant city.”