TOURISM in Romsey could be boosted this year if plans for a multimillion-pound "nature-based campus" are approved, a charity has said.

An application was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to knock down the old aquatic centre, Romsey World of Water in Greatbridge Road.

In its place would feature a cafe, visitors’ centre and a place to view birds on the Fishlake Meadows Nature Reserve - next to the development - which could create 150 jobs.

If approved, the £10m scheme, submitted by Azure One Limited, would offer retail space, flexible community space, and offices.

The Romsey & District Society believes the scheme could help boost visitor numbers to the market town and Fishlake Meadows nature reserve as more tourists are opting for a staycation this summer.

In a new document to TVBC, the charity has continued to back the environmentally-friendly project since it was tabled to planning chiefs last year.

It reads: "Following our support of this application last October, we continue to back the scheme. The project will be a worthy asset for both tourism in the town and the nature reserve."

And, one resident, who is a stone's throw away from the nature reserve, believes the proposals will help with work to improve the wildlife haven.

John Bannister, who lives in Homefield, said: "This development forms very necessary support for all the work that has been undertaken to improve the environment for wildlife on the adjoining important nature reserve.

"It provides the public facilities, the visitor centre and car parking for a wider public to enjoy the nature reserve and learn more about the wonderful surroundings of Romsey."

This comes after the Romsey & District Society claimed tensions between drivers and residents could be eased if the plans are approved.

The charity believes conflict between residents and motorists can flare up when people are eager to catch a glimpse of rare birds in the nature reserve, but park on residential roads.

But, the society said the 173 parking bays on the new site could reduce rows over limited spaces.

"The availability of more parking space will reduce local on-street parking in residential roads, which has caused conflict with local residents when rare bird species and starling murmurations have been reported in the nature reserve," the document to TVBC reads.

The charity added the project could be a positive example of eco-friendly building in the area that "would compliment and enhance the nature reserve".

Before this, project lead at ep projects, Gary Wilburn, revealed work on the site could begin in September if TVBC gives the plans the nod.

He told the Advertiser: "All parties continue to pursue the original vision of delivering an equal opportunity access to Fishlake Meadows and the lower Test Valley for current and future generations.

"We hope to secure permission very soon and start work on site in September this year."

Before this, Mr Wilburn said the “nature-based campus” could generate 150 jobs, “provide a £10m green infrastructure investment” and would give better access to the nature reserve.