WINCHESTER civic chiefs are poised to allow the developer of Silver Hill to submit a revised planning application.
Critics of the £150 million redevelopment warn that would be an irretrievable step which will see the city council surrender control over the scheme.
Henderson wants to put aside the approved plans from 2009 and reduce the number of homes from 307 to 184, drop 100 affordable homes, scrap the bus station, cut public car parking from 330 to 279 and increase retail space by 55 per cent.
A public exhibition of the new plans will be held in the Guildhall Courtyard from 12 noon today until Friday, July 18.
Former city councillor Patrick Davies criticised the removal of affordable housing. He branded it as “social cleansing, ensuring that increasingly only the wealthy will be able to live in the city centre.”
Cllr Kim Gottlieb, at the overview and scrutiny committee on Monday, made a strong attack on the council saying the public was being misled.
He is fighting a last-ditch campaign pressing for a delay to the plans for further consideration, arguing it is too overbearing and will ruin the city centre.
He wrote a hard-hitting report alleging the “council lacked the requisite experience and competence in the management of the project….Members both inside and outside of the Cabinet are not being properly advised, and the fact that the public too is being misled, is a major flaw in the process.”
But others criticised his stance. Cllr Therese Evans, Liberal Democrat, said: “I understand his passion, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but some of his language is unnecessary.”
Cllr Gottlieb also questioned why 100 affordable homes were deemed to be unviable. He said: “The only reason offered by the council to explain why in 2012 a 35 per cent affordable housing contribution was financially viable but in 2014 no affordable housing is viable, is because the developer intends to spend more money on the materials for the building elevations. How little were they planning to spend before?
“When you factor in the cost/value benefits of taking out the bus station and adding in 50,000 square feet of more retail space, plus the way the market has improved, this explanation lacks any credibility.”
Another controversial change will be the likelihood that the street markets will stay in the High Street and Middle Brook Street instead of relocating to The Broadway.
Deputy council leader Victoria Weston said the scheme needed to be updated and improved. “I'm reassured that we are advised this represents a good deal for the council and the city. Delay will achieve nothing. It will be a dereliction of our duty. What is so bad about a scheme that has retailers queuing up to take space?”
Kevin Warren, head of estates, said a new scheme now would take four to five years to bring to fruition.