The area known as Silver Hill covers an area of approximately 2.3 hectares of central Winchester. It includes the bus station, Friarsgate medical centre, Kings Walk and the Friarsgate car park amongst other elements. Since the end of the 1990s the Council has been seeking the comprehensive redevelopment of this area to improve the quality of retail, residential and public space in the Silver Hill area.
After careful consideration of all the issues and the preparation of a Planning Brief in 2003, the Council entered into a Development Agreement with Thornfield Properties to promote a comprehensive redevelopment, backed by the use of compulsory purchase powers if necessary.
Planning consent for a new development on the area was granted in 2008. The scheme includes:
- 287 residential units
- Just under 100,000 square feet of new retail space
- 18,000 square feet of office accommodation
- A new bus station
- A new public car park
- New public spaces, including improvements to the Broadway
By 2008 it had also become clear that the land necessary for the redevelopment would not be brought together by agreement between the owners and the Council therefore resolved to use compulsory purchase powers.
The Council agreed to make an order for the compulsory purchase but before further progress could be made, Thornfield Properties lost their financial backing as the credit crunch of 2008 and 2009 caused their bank to withdraw from funding commercial property schemes.
Fortunately the strength of the economy in Winchester meant that the scheme was still attractive to potential developers, and the share capital of Thornfield Properties was bought by the UK Property Fund of Henderson Global Investors – a major international company which invests money in existing and new development opportunities.
Henderson completed all of the necessary legal processes and in July 2011 the scheme became fully active again. The Council reconsidered its decision to use compulsory purchase powers and confirmed its wish to do.