WINCHESTER civic chiefs early today (FRI) allowed a developer to apply for controversial changes to a £150m Silver Hill development.

More than 150 people packed into a room at the Guildhall yesterday evening, forcing the city council Cabinet to move the meeting to the building’s conference chamber and delay the start for 30 minutes.

After six hours, at around 1am this morning, the Cabinet agreed to let Henderson apply for permission for a new scheme.

Developer Henderson wants to alter a scheme that originally got planning permission in 2009.

Henderson proposes to scrap plans for a bus station and offices, cut the number of flats from 307 to 184 and remove any social housing, provide more shops as well as reduce the number of public car parking spaces from 330 to 279.

The opponents fear Silver Hill will ruin Winchester, sucking life from the High Street and at up to seven-storeys high looming over the city centre.

Hugh Petter, a local architect, told the meeting: “It’s a mystery how Silver Hill got permission in the first place.

“The proposed scale is just too big. It will transform the character of Winchester.”

Council leader Rob Humby said the revisions included lowering the height of the scheme, introducing better materials and introducing more public spaces.

He said: “This represents a very good deal for Winchester. It will support the high street, protect the town centre, and not harm it.”

A planning application is due to be made in the autumn. Building work could start as soon as early 2015.

See more in next week's Hampshire Chronicle.