Winchester Cabinet approves the dropping of affordable housing from Silver Hill scheme

Winchester Cabinet approves the dropping of affordable housing from Silver Hill scheme

Middle Brook Street with the development on the left and the Brooks Centre on the right

A model of Silver Hill scheme

Martin Perry, Henderson’s director of retail property development

Winchester Cabinet approves the dropping of affordable housing from Silver Hill scheme

Kim Gottlieb, Winchester Deserves Better campaigner

Silver Hill critic: Patrick Davies

First published in Winchester

WINCHESTER City Council cabinet has voted unanimously to relinquish the requirement for affordable housing to be a key part of the controversial Silver Hill development.

The onus is now no longer on developer Henderson to incorporate it into the scheme. Instead any money for social housing will have to come from the council's share of the profits.

Instead discussions will be held with them further down the line, with the possibility of monies allocated by both parties to social housing, should there eventually be enough profit from the scheme.

The shift in stance from 100 affordable homes to none in the project, set to regenerate a significant chunk of central Winchester, has been blamed on changes in the financial and housing market since the project’s inception prior to the recession.

Passing the recommendation at Cabinet yesterday, council leader Rob Humby said it had fought hard to get the best possible deal.

“If we went back and started again we wouldn’t get anything as good,” he said.

“We’ve tried to address all the questions that were put forward. You can’t satisfy everybody on every point, whatever you do in Winchester.

“Even if we went back and started again there would be a group of people who wouldn’t be happy. This is the best deal to deliver affordable housing.”

The meeting proved a tense stand-off between cabinet members and the public, and had to be held in bigger hall than originally planned because over 100 wished to attend.

The social housing issue has been a major part of the recent campaign against the revamping of the £150m scheme.

Residents made impassioned speeches, branding the scheme “socially and morally repugnant” and “a monstrosity”.

One warned: “If you’re not careful you will end up going to war with the residents of this city.”

Cllr Kim Gottlieb, leader of the Winchester Deserves Better campaign, received a standing ovation when he said: “I have been behind the scenes and seen enough of the council’s own examination of this scheme and its many alterations to know that the process has been flawed and inadequate.”

Former city councillor Patrick Davies was equally critical: “It will be in the developers’ interest to ensure that they never have to make these payments and they no doubt will be able in due course to produce consultant advice to justify their stand.

“It is almost 18 months since a series of secret meetings with the developers and their advisers began, completely hidden from public scrutiny.

“I have asked to see details of these meetings and despite assurances that I could have them, I’m still waiting.”

Tempers frayed when the public were asked to leave so that councillors could discuss commercially sensitive financial details.

Winchester resident Jane Jessop took to the public microphone unbidden to vent her shock and anger at the behaviour of a democratically elected body.

But returning to public session cabinet member Iain Tait was equally irate: “I feel extremely disappointed my own credentials about supporting affordable housing have been questioned,” he said.

“I am proud to be associated with what is coming forward. I don’t see it as an example of poor architecture. I hope I will be here once Silver Hill is built and determine whether it’s a good or bad development.”

Cllr Vicki Weston agreed, stressing that the council had considered every aspect of the scheme in-depth and had followed best practice.

A revised planning application is expected later this year.

Comments (7)

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6:02am Fri 8 Aug 14

chumpster says...

Basingchester here we come....
Basingchester here we come.... chumpster
  • Score: 1

7:12am Fri 8 Aug 14

Heloise says...

What happened to the other comments that were posted on this story yesterday? Is Winchester City Council editing? Don't they like being accused of lining their own pockets because they would rather continue to over expand already highly populated areas or build on farmland, taking away even more green soace?
What happened to the other comments that were posted on this story yesterday? Is Winchester City Council editing? Don't they like being accused of lining their own pockets because they would rather continue to over expand already highly populated areas or build on farmland, taking away even more green soace? Heloise
  • Score: 1

10:37am Fri 8 Aug 14

billleadbetter@yahoo.co.uk says...

I was at that meeting.
Many people spoke from public and council alike. Only those on the committee spoke in favour of dropping the commitment to affordable (or social) housing. Everyone else was against the scheme in general and the dropping of affordable housing in particular. I was given the opportunity to speak (3 minutes, not nearly enough). In that time I reminded the committee of it's duty to serve the community it is supposed to represent, I also pointed out that although the agenda for the meeting was SOLELY for the consideration of the affordable housing, it would be wrong to consider that aspect in isolation; instead it should be considered as part of the overall negotiation with Henderson, the developer and whilst the committee might have set the agenda, they have a duty to listen to the community they ostensibly serve. After 3 hours, members of the public and non-sitting Councillors were asked to leave for an "exclusive " session among officers and committee, (why the secrecy guys?). It is my view that was connived to encourage the public to go home after 3 hours of pointless deliberation and miss the debate and vote. Why pointless? Because after that period, those few of us who remained heard the so-called debate in which all members of the committee agreed , without debate , to allow the removal of the need for affordable housing and so the motion was passed unanimously, proving that the previous period was little more than an exercise in "seeing to be " democratic, when in fact no notice was taken at all of all the public and non-serving councillors' views. At this point only Henderson are in the running for this project. Why? ( I was not allowed to ask this question). Steve Tilbury, head of Corporate Services, advised this is the "best deal Winchester can get"; how can that be when no-one else is involved and no non-Henderson design has been considered? Why were the initial discussions with Henderson held in secret; what has Mr Tilbury got to hide? So I call into question the serving of democracy by this body and I also call into question the presence of a member of the council's democratic services department, who's presence was in my view was no more than another sop to the appearance of fair democratic process. Horse feathers!. The decision was made beforehand. The body of committee members and appointed officers alike should not be surprised if their integrity is questioned. May I suggest we all contact the Prince of Wales and seek his help to stop this abominable development? So unless you want this project to go ahead or just don't care for the future of our City, get involved, use social media to share your concerns about the rush to commit to something we will have years to regret.
I was at that meeting. Many people spoke from public and council alike. Only those on the committee spoke in favour of dropping the commitment to affordable (or social) housing. Everyone else was against the scheme in general and the dropping of affordable housing in particular. I was given the opportunity to speak (3 minutes, not nearly enough). In that time I reminded the committee of it's duty to serve the community it is supposed to represent, I also pointed out that although the agenda for the meeting was SOLELY for the consideration of the affordable housing, it would be wrong to consider that aspect in isolation; instead it should be considered as part of the overall negotiation with Henderson, the developer and whilst the committee might have set the agenda, they have a duty to listen to the community they ostensibly serve. After 3 hours, members of the public and non-sitting Councillors were asked to leave for an "exclusive " session among officers and committee, (why the secrecy guys?). It is my view that was connived to encourage the public to go home after 3 hours of pointless deliberation and miss the debate and vote. Why pointless? Because after that period, those few of us who remained heard the so-called debate in which all members of the committee agreed , without debate , to allow the removal of the need for affordable housing and so the motion was passed unanimously, proving that the previous period was little more than an exercise in "seeing to be " democratic, when in fact no notice was taken at all of all the public and non-serving councillors' views. At this point only Henderson are in the running for this project. Why? ( I was not allowed to ask this question). Steve Tilbury, head of Corporate Services, advised this is the "best deal Winchester can get"; how can that be when no-one else is involved and no non-Henderson design has been considered? Why were the initial discussions with Henderson held in secret; what has Mr Tilbury got to hide? So I call into question the serving of democracy by this body and I also call into question the presence of a member of the council's democratic services department, who's presence was in my view was no more than another sop to the appearance of fair democratic process. Horse feathers!. The decision was made beforehand. The body of committee members and appointed officers alike should not be surprised if their integrity is questioned. May I suggest we all contact the Prince of Wales and seek his help to stop this abominable development? So unless you want this project to go ahead or just don't care for the future of our City, get involved, use social media to share your concerns about the rush to commit to something we will have years to regret. billleadbetter@yahoo.co.uk
  • Score: 10

10:55am Fri 8 Aug 14

Yves1977 says...

Heloise wrote:
What happened to the other comments that were posted on this story yesterday? Is Winchester City Council editing? Don't they like being accused of lining their own pockets because they would rather continue to over expand already highly populated areas or build on farmland, taking away even more green soace?
different story. The comments are still there
[quote][p][bold]Heloise[/bold] wrote: What happened to the other comments that were posted on this story yesterday? Is Winchester City Council editing? Don't they like being accused of lining their own pockets because they would rather continue to over expand already highly populated areas or build on farmland, taking away even more green soace?[/p][/quote]different story. The comments are still there Yves1977
  • Score: 5

12:15pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Ravenor says...

I sort of understand the realpolitik of the Council having to take the (totally undesirable) hit of not having any affordable or social housing, just to ensure that the scheme finally goes ahead.

Playing devil's advocate, this scheme - in any of its guises - has been dragging on for, what, ten, fifteen years now? The developers therefore have the Council over a barrel, being able to say "well, if you make us put social housing in then we'll take the whole thing back to square one, and you'll be stuck with this eyesore of a district for another five years".

Personally I'd like the Council to take the nuclear option - scrap this scheme, tell the developers where to go and then borrow many millions of pounds, buy the entire site and put up something that benefits the people of Winchester more than the current plans do. A mix of shops, offices, private & affordable homes would pay for itself pretty quickly. Admittedly it would be expensive with the various consultancy fees but hell, at least we wouldn't be dictated to.


"The shift in stance from 100 affordable homes to none in the project, set to regenerate a significant chunk of central Winchester, has been blamed on changes in the financial and housing market since the project’s inception prior to the recession."

This is total tosh. If you're going to fob us off with excuses then at least have the decency for them to make *some* sort of sense.


Whilst I'm at it - thank you to everyone who went to share their views at the meeting. At least the Council can be in no way, shape or form unclear about the dim view we're taking of the situation.
I sort of understand the realpolitik of the Council having to take the (totally undesirable) hit of not having any affordable or social housing, just to ensure that the scheme finally goes ahead. Playing devil's advocate, this scheme - in any of its guises - has been dragging on for, what, ten, fifteen years now? The developers therefore have the Council over a barrel, being able to say "well, if you make us put social housing in then we'll take the whole thing back to square one, and you'll be stuck with this eyesore of a district for another five years". Personally I'd like the Council to take the nuclear option - scrap this scheme, tell the developers where to go and then borrow many millions of pounds, buy the entire site and put up something that benefits the people of Winchester more than the current plans do. A mix of shops, offices, private & affordable homes would pay for itself pretty quickly. Admittedly it would be expensive with the various consultancy fees but hell, at least we wouldn't be dictated to. "The shift in stance from 100 affordable homes to none in the project, set to regenerate a significant chunk of central Winchester, has been blamed on changes in the financial and housing market since the project’s inception prior to the recession." This is total tosh. If you're going to fob us off with excuses then at least have the decency for them to make *some* sort of sense. Whilst I'm at it - thank you to everyone who went to share their views at the meeting. At least the Council can be in no way, shape or form unclear about the dim view we're taking of the situation. Ravenor
  • Score: 10

12:21pm Fri 8 Aug 14

wheresthemoneygone says...

Yes, somebody's editing this 'democratic discussion' I've had many of my comments deleted from the record recently.

This is an absolute disgrace. Wintonians will not forget this. A rich man/woman's 'gated' community in the centre of Winchester - at the expense of the Winchester taxpayer - with no benefit to the local community.This shows how morally corrupt, and possibly literally corrupt, the Council are.They can not be trusted to look after the interests of the local community.Winchester City Council do not represent the people of Winchester and are now sadly shadows to Corporate demands backed by sycophantic Governments.
Yes, somebody's editing this 'democratic discussion' I've had many of my comments deleted from the record recently. This is an absolute disgrace. Wintonians will not forget this. A rich man/woman's 'gated' community in the centre of Winchester - at the expense of the Winchester taxpayer - with no benefit to the local community.This shows how morally corrupt, and possibly literally corrupt, the Council are.They can not be trusted to look after the interests of the local community.Winchester City Council do not represent the people of Winchester and are now sadly shadows to Corporate demands backed by sycophantic Governments. wheresthemoneygone
  • Score: 3

3:00pm Fri 8 Aug 14

adav1672 says...

I attended a Planning Committee Meeting earlier this year and had the impression that the decision had already been made. I attended the Cabinet's Silver Hill meeting on Wednesday, made a contribution and left shortly after as I had already come to realize that we, the people of Winchester, might as well have been banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall

Until decisions about matters applicable solely to the City are made by those elected to represent city Wards ie Non-Parish Wards, then nothing will change.
I attended a Planning Committee Meeting earlier this year and had the impression that the decision had already been made. I attended the Cabinet's Silver Hill meeting on Wednesday, made a contribution and left shortly after as I had already come to realize that we, the people of Winchester, might as well have been banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall Until decisions about matters applicable solely to the City are made by those elected to represent city Wards ie Non-Parish Wards, then nothing will change. adav1672
  • Score: 7

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