Removing the strut is quite a task but if I could compress the spring with the right tool 'while still on the car', I think that the strut could come out of the steering knuckle with-out removing the knuckle from the axle (which requires removing and replacing with a new axle bolt that takes 180ftlbs+180deg, yep quite a bit). Any advise is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
I'm not sure what you mean by "remove the steering knuckle from the axle" but it is possible to pull the whole strut off the car by removing the three bolts that hold the bottom ball-joint onto the wishbone and easing the ball-joint out of the wishbone with the hub still attached.
You then remove the pinch-bolt that holds the bottom of the damper into the hub, spread the hub with either a spreader tool or a 1/4" drive extension turned though 45 degrees and then simply knock the hub downwards with a soft mallet.
Unbolt the three bolts from the strut top mount into the body shell and you ought to be able to remove the whole strut assembly.
Edit: your vehicle is an earlier platform which may be similar but is not the same as I originally thought.
Removing the front struts on an MQB platform vehicle is extremely difficult - I was trying recently on a Seat Leon 5F.
You will be glad to hear that the strut is removable with a set of finger spring clamps. You must compress the spring around 1" which will allow you to remove the strut from the hub.
Remember that you will also have to split the ball joint, remove the drop links and undo the set screw on the back of the hub. Also it can help to work on both sides at the same time.
Getting a set of finger clamps into the strut tower can be tricky, but with a small pair it is possible.
A VAG garage would remove the driveshaft bolt.