Apart from the way in which the architecture of the proposal will transform the character of the city, there are numerous other harmful consequences. The most significant will be the damage to the existing High Street, which is considered by all to be the attractive, thriving, beating heart of the city. It is said to have Roman origins and to be the oldest in northern Europe.
Regardless of how architecturally successful the new proposal might or might not be, it is inevitable that the volume of retail accommodation it comprises, which now includes a large department store at its easternmost end, will shift the centre of gravity and prime pitch away from the existing High Street.
It is claimed that the proposed additional retail space of over 150,000 square feet will simply add to the range of shopping available. However, shopping as activity has been so revolutionised by the internet that that claim is naïve and simplistic, and betrayed by hundreds of examples of High Streets that have otherwise been wrecked by the growth of covered shopping malls and retail warehouse parks, restrictive parking, the recession and the internet.
However successful the Silver Hill proposal by itself might turn out to be, if it damaged the vitality of one of the last few successful traditional High Streets in the country it would be an utter disaster for the city.
At a time when every other traditional high street is trying to boost economic activity within itself, Winchester, incredibly and uniquely, is promoting a scheme that will shift the centre of gravity away from its own High Street and emasculate it.
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