Councilor John Tippett-Cooper provides an update on the River Park Leisure Center consultation

A PUBLIC consultation will take place this summer to promote the development of the site of the former River Park Leisure Centre.

In March, Winchester City Council approved the disposal of the site, including the skate park and bowling club, on a 150-year lease to the University of Southampton.

The university wants to expand its art school campus on Park Avenue, as well as develop the former North Walls Police Station site.

This was met by chaotic scenes at Winchester Guildhall as protesters tried to enter the meeting.

On an online forum, Cllr John Tippett-Cooper explained the next steps in the process.

READ MORE: An adviser backs the extension of the safety pilot project at the River Park Leisure Center site in Winchester

Cllr Tippett-Cooper said: ‘River Park’s playgrounds, play area and open green space remain fully protected. These areas are not rented or sold and remain fully protected as open spaces.

“The agreement only includes the footprint of the old leisure center building, part of the car park, the indoor pétanque area and the skatepark.

“The only ‘green’ spaces included in the rental area are a few small grass borders next to the water. The public will still be able to stroll through the River Park site.

“The University wishes to include the former site of the leisure center to construct an attractive building which will include community facilities, such as a performance and exhibition space, a library and a café; it’s all part of a multi-million pound investment in Winchester.

Cllr Tippett-Cooper also provided details of the public consultation.

He said: “The University of Southampton now has five years to develop a plan for the site and go through the planning process before a formal lease is agreed.

“They will launch a public consultation process this summer to help design the site. We expect the public to have plenty of opportunities to comment and give feedback on university plans before a single shovel goes into the ground.

“We also worked with the University to get an agreement on creating a residents’ forum where you can meet them and discuss the proposal directly. We expect these meetings to begin shortly.

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