High Court quashes Winchester consent for city centre mixed-use scheme

A High Court judge has quashed a consent for a 20,000 square metre city centre mixed-use development in Winchester after the local authority decided not to fight a legal challenge by campaigners concerned about the scheme's heritage impacts.

Winchester: Visualisation of quashed scheme
Winchester: Visualisation of quashed scheme

The City of Winchester Trust had last month applied to the High Court for permission to bring a judicial review against Winchester City Council's decision to grant permission for a mixed-use office and leisure scheme near to the city’s railway station.

However, according to the trust, the council has decided not to resist the challenge, leading to the judge’s order this week to revoke the permission.

Confirming that the order had been issued by the High Court, a trust spokesman said: "We look forward to contributing to the process moving forwards and with greater control over the outcome."

The trust’s ground for challenge was that the council’s September planning committee failed to assess the impact of the proposal on nearby heritage assets and on important views across the city.

The scheme, for which the council was the applicant, would have seen buildings up to five storeys built on a 0.67 hectare site in Station Approach.

It would have provided 17,972 square metres of office space, up to 1,896 square metres of mixed uses including potential retail, restaurant/cafe, bar and leisure uses and seen the refurbishment of the city’s former registry office.

The officer’s report for the committee said: "It is wholly acknowledged that the proposal introduces, through its parameters, the capability to introduce prominent buildings on a highly visible site.

"This would be, however, complimentary to the mixture of uses and building types in the area and this is not considered to adversely affect the surrounding area."

However, the trust said: "We felt that the development proposed would be detrimental in so many ways to Winchester's core conservation area that action had to be taken, and a judicial review was the only way of providing the opportunity for a better and more appropriate scheme to be achieved."

Planning approached Winchester City Council for a comment but had not received a response at the time of writing.

According to the Hampshire Chronicle, a city council spokesman said: "Winchester City Council has received an order from the High Court which confirms the outline planning permission for the Station Approach application has been quashed."

In 2016, Winchester City Council decided to tear up long-running plans to redevelop its city centre over delays to the scheme commencing.

Earlier this month, in another judicial review, the High Court overturned a decision to allow a barn-to-home prior approval conversion close to the runway of a Leicestershire gliding club because the council failed to properly consider safety and noise concerns.

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