GREATER access to the river, a permanent café and a possible name change all form part of a major scheme for Winchester’s biggest park.

Since 2018 Winchester City Council has been engaging with the public and stakeholders on plans for the future of the 30-acre North Walls Recreation Ground.

Earlier this year the council unveiled initial ideas for the green space, but now a final park plan has been produced and is due to be discussed at the town forum tonight.

The planning document said: “The recreation ground will be facing new challenges as a result of the relocation of the leisure centre. The council was therefore looking to commission a consultant team to develop a vision into a new design for the recreation ground.”

Following feedback some ideas have been thrown out including the sculpture-observation tower (photo), pop-up mini golf, new park canopy incorporating solar powered shade structures and painting the Banana Bridge yellow.

Discussing the tower, the plan stated: “As a result of lack of support due to concerns raised about a landmark fitting in with the character of the recreation ground, potential anti-social behaviour, cost and loss of green space the tower proposals have been dropped.”

The scheme will not only include greater amenities but also a new name, with a recommendation to name the space River Park “to better reflect the qualities of the site”.

One of the popular ideas was for a multi-functional space with toilets, benches and a coffee van, this aspect has been upgraded to include a permanent café and toilet building. It will be sited in the area referred to as the plaza, but the council has said that proposals for this part of the park will need to consider flood risk.

The future of the park is also expected to include greater access to the river. The council has decided that access will be given along the middle river within the recreation ground, away from the nature reserve to the east.

In this location there will be a children’s paddling area and to the north two dipping platforms which will be for activities such as net dipping, while providing a spot to enjoy the views.

The perimeter track has remained from the initial plans but has been amended to show links to the gravel path and the main entrance.

The plan added: “As a multi-functional and intergenerational space, the recreation ground contributes towards the character, diversity and distinctiveness of the city landscape. It is used for a wide variety of purposes by many people, groups and organisations of all ages.

“This Park Plan recommends an overarching strategy for taking improvements to the recreation ground forward over the next 5-10 years. The Park Plan is a living document and will adapt and change to take account of new information and to prepare and deliver an annual action plan. It sets out clearly the priorities for the key stakeholders and wider community at this time.”

READ MORE HERE: Reaction from Wednesday night's Winchester Town Forum