SIR: In your issue of 20th May you describe Winchester

City Council’s ideas for the future of North Walls Recreation Ground as “radical”. For me they evoke memories of the successful 2014 Save the Rec campaign, which I was privileged to chair. Our campaign’s slogan was “Keep it green beyond the stream”. These new proposals do not do that and the council would be well advised to remember how well-loved the Rec is by electors.

Under-pinning all else, how does the council expect residents to make cogent comments when the future of the adjacent leisure centre site is still undecided?

That said, the language of the proposals suggests that the consultants who have written them are specialists in public relations rather than in recreation grounds. “Great parks are made up of great places, with a diverse combination of things to do throughout the day and throughout all seasons. North Walls will be a great park loved by a great city community. . . function and beauty, activity and quiet, exploration and play, landmarks and river context.” The author of these platitudes seems not to know that The Rec is already a great park, and that any changes to it must be made with the greatest care, sensitivity and respect for its history and users.

Some of the specific ideas are likely to be welcome, for instance the provision of toilets, the improvements to the Park Avenue entrance, the new surface for runners and a better children’s playground. Some, like a clean river and a network of walking and cycle paths and the retention of the sports pitches, are already there. Others, like recycling initiatives and increased biodiversity, are meaningless without being spelled out in detail: will the council invite the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, which manages much of the neighbouring land, to work jointly on proposals for increased biodiversity?

This is a recreation ground, not a theme park: a sculpture tower-cum-observation tower-cum-helter-skelter, a yellow-painted bridge, an undefined “inspiring artwork” and some concrete solar trees would effectively turn a green space into an urban one.

And more important than painting the banana bridge yellow, surely, is to modify it to enable users of manual wheelchairs to get over it without assistance.

If the council wants a pathfinder project for the future of the Rec, it already has a brilliant one. It is the replacement of the derelict summer-only cricket pavilion by AR Design’s imaginative design for a new year-round multi-sport pavilion, which may also function as a pop-up café, making the proposed coffee van redundant.

I urge the council to declare its plans for the future of the leisure centre site, and then to replace these proposals with some better thought-out ideas, appropriate to our much-loved Rec. The proposed urbanisation of this cherished green park will surely turn the Rec into a Wreck.

Sir Antony Walker KCB,

Nuns Road,