Civic chiefs plan to replace Winchester pub with new community centre

2:37pm Thursday 28th February 2013

WINCHESTER civic chiefs are hoping to buy a former pub and bulldoze it to make way for a new community centre, the Hampshire Chronicle can reveal.

The city council last week put in a bid for the New Queen’s Head in Stanmore Lane which had a price tag of £1m.

Bargate Homes had twice been refused planning permission to demolish the pub and build houses as well as a convenience store.

Now the council wants to move the Carroll Centre, Community Centre and Scout Hut in Somers Close to a new building on the cleared plot.

Proposals for the new “community and leisure hub” include a five-court sports hall and 80-space car park.

If successful, it is proposed to build about 30 new homes on council land adjacent to the pub freed-up by relocating The Carroll Centre and two other buildings.

The hub will form a central part of a long-term regeneration scheme for Stanmore which is among the 30 per cent poorest neighbourhoods in the country.

The city council paid planning firm Broadway Malyan £20,000 to prepare a framework to guide development over the next 10-15 years.

Aims included improving life for locals, such as more affordable housing, better roads and community facilities.

The Chronicle obtained a copy of the consultants’ planning framework or “emerging vision” presented to councillors behind closed doors two weeks ago. Cabinet has to approve a report before it goes out to public consultation in April.

The consultants identified potential sites for 413 homes in Stanmore, including 30 at Somers Close if the Carroll Centre, Community Centre and Scouts Hut move.

Other housing sites include Wavell Way (200), Kingsley Place/Princes Place (50), Wilberforce Close/Birch Drive (35), Selborne Place/Wykeham Place (33), Eversley Place/Vicarage (20), Kings Avenue/Cromwell Road (20), Fox Lane/Stanmore Lane (12).

But it would mean demolishing some 77 homes to make way for more council dwellings, loss of open space and some allotments.

Other proposals include revamped play areas, upgraded open space, improved sports pitches, new footpaths, a nature walk and extra parking.

Councillor Ian Tait, portfolio holder for new homes delivery, declined to say how much the council bid for the New Queens Head, owned by Enterprise Inns, but said it was “not vastly under” £1m. The funding will come from a pot of money for new council homes.

Cllr Tait stressed the proposals were still at “embryonic state” and he was aware Stanmore was already short of public open space, so housing numbers could be lower.

He said most of the proposed new dwellings would be council homes.

The Carroll Centre opened in 1993 after fundraising by the local community to provide more services for young people.

It was revamped last year to accommodate Stanmore Library which relocated from Wavell Way following county council cuts.

The Carroll Centre also houses a Sure Start children’s centre, Jobs Club and afterschool club.

The Community Centre opened in 1978 and is also used by local groups, including a senior citizens’ Rainbow Club although it is in need of refurbishment.

Cllr Jamie Scott, who represents St Luke ward, chaired a steering group for Stanmore Masterplan which also includes Rev Mark Gardner, vicar of St Luke’s church and a trustee of the Carroll Centre.

Mr Scott said a new community centre in Stanmore Lane would be more visible and encourage greater use of facilities, including the library.

He described the proposals as “exciting” but said locals would have to weigh up the pros and cons.

Mr Scott said: “People don’t like change and there is a lot of attachment to the Carroll Centre, Community Centre and Scout Hut. But a lot of families would like to see more council houses for their youngsters so they can stay in the area where they have grown up.”

Rev Mike Gardner welcomed the proposed move to the former pub site. He said: “I think it is a very positive option for the whole community as there would be easier access, a better location and improved facilities.”

Sheelagh Evans, executive secretary of the 8th Winchester Scout Group which uses the Scout Hut, sounded a note of caution. She said: “The 8th is a very active and growing group and has enjoyed much success in district and county competitions.

“However because of the nature of scouting activities traditionally scouts operate from their own premises. We will need to consider the implications carefully.”

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