THE councillor who played a key role in bringing down one multi-million pound Winchester scheme is questioning whether another should proceed.

In a letter to his cabinet, Conservative-turned-Liberal Democrat Kim Gottlieb has said continuing with the current Station Approach project – the second attempt at regenerating the area around Winchester railway station – would be "unwise".

Cllr Gottlieb, who played a key role in bringing down the original Silver Hill scheme to regenerate part of the city centre, expressed concerns that that the scheme as it is would present too much of a risk to the council.

While still a Conservative, Cllr Gottlieb also voted against his own party to derail the first Station Approach attempt.

In the letter to cabinet, which met last week, Cllr Gottlieb said: "This project has been mismanaged since 2015 by successive Conservative administrations, which have misunderstood the development process.

"I understand why cabinet is reluctant to write off the money the council has spent, and why it wants to rescue the project in order to bolster the local economy, but I fear that its efforts will be futile. Moreover, I believe that there are a number of risks associated with the project that make continuing with the current proposal unwise."

Cllr Gottlieb repeated the concerns he voiced at a previously council meeting about the council losing control of design of the project.

As previously reported, the scheme is set transform the area around the railway station, creating 140,000 square feet of Grade A office space, along with a further 17,000 sq ft of retail, cafe and restaurant space.

Civic chiefs estimate it will provide an £81million boost to the local economy and create 1,000 jobs. The planning application is expected to go before a city council planning committee in either this month or next.

He said: "The reality is that the council will have no control over what the development will ultimately look like.

"I would reiterate that I support the development of this site but that I believe that there are alternative and more financially attractive ways of doing so."

Responding, council leader Lucille Thompson said in a statement: "We're not looking at this as a developer would, to maximise profit, but thinking about local employment, the benefit to the high street and how we can improve walking, cycling and the quality of the area.

"The council is not a commercial developer and does not have the capacity or expertise to develop the site itself which would be the only way of having the level of control Councillor Gottlieb is seeking. If we can't find the right developer to create a scheme Winchester can be proud of we are willing to walk away.

"The open forum will create an opportunity for all our residents to work with us on this as the project moves forward."

During the cabinet meeting last week, in which Cllr Gottlieb's letter was referenced but not read out, Mark Baulch of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, and Paul Spencer, executive director of Winchester BID, urged councillors to proceed with the project.