WINCHESTER residents tonight aired concerns about a potential major city centre redevelopment near their homes.

Civic chiefs are drawing up plans for the revamp of the Station Approach area, stretching from the railway station to Andover Road.

Several ideas have been suggested including building offices and homes on the Cattle Market car park and putting extra layers on the Gladstone Street car park.

Resident Steve Harbourne, of the Worthy Road Residents Group, told the town forum: “We think that is a huge mistake. The Cattle Market is a valuable asset for Winchester.”

Mr Harbourne, of Worthy Lane, said it limits congestion as motorists park before the congested Andover Road-City Road-Stockbridge Road junction.

He added: “The impression is that this is a done deal, that all we can do is make representations about the fine detail.”

Mr Harbourne said the city had enough empty offices without adding more. Existing space should be modernised, he said.

Steve Tilbury, corporate director, told the forum the council had commissioned a general study into the area by consultants Tibbalds and they were due to report soon.

Tibbalds would consult local stakeholders such as landowners, councillors, WinACC and the City of Winchester Trust in July and report back in early August.

Mr Tilbury said of the Tibbalds work: “It is not about development proposals, it is about context of the area and what needs to be done in order to make development work. There is not a widespread public consultation at the moment because there are no proposals on which to consult.”

But crucial decisions will be made in the autumn when councillors consider Local Plan Part 2 which will propose major sites for development. The draft is due to go out to public consultation in September-October.

Architect Paul Bulkeley, of Winchester-based Snug Projects, based on Andover Road, has long suggested the Station Approach area for redevelopment.

He also told the forum that the city council should consider extending the ‘settlement boundary’ to make it easier to build on countryside.

Major ‘infill’ scheme proposals in Winchester were seeing fewer homes. Silver Hill currently proposes 180 instead of 300; the Police Headquarters 150, down from 197; and the North Walls fire station 16 down from 45.

Providing the 40 per cent affordable housing was becoming unviable in cities but much easier on greenfield sites.

He said: “It’s time to forget the planners black line on the map and look for land on a case by case basis.”

On a different note, Cllr Ian Tait said the boarded-up ‘crackhouse’ at the Andover Road-City Road junction, dormant for some two years, was now on the market which is why it has not been spruced up.