SIR: You report that Cllr Kelsie Learney, Winchester City Council portfolio holder for housing and asset management, has decreed that the site of the redundant River Park Leisure Centre should be handed to the University of Southampton, on terms that are far from clear but will lead to a 150 year lease, in effect a freehold (Chronicle, November 4). The site would not revert to the people of Winchester until long after any of us are around.

Before that happens, there are many questions to ask, including, which of these is more appropriate for the sensitive site between the conservation area of Hyde and the nature reserve of Winnall Moors?

Southampton University doesn’t seem to have any obvious plans for the site other than ‘a bit of Southampton in Winchester’. There is nothing about expansion into Winchester on its estates web page. The first image here is taken from that page, and shows a building planned for the campus in Southampton. There are several other buildings of similar style and proportion, and anyone who has seen the campus lately will know what development there looks like.

The second image is of Chagford lido, in Devon, one of over 100 lidos in the UK. This one is fed by the river Teign, the water cleaned and filtered. It was built in the 1930s for the benefit of the public, and to discourage people from swimming in the river and disturbing the fishermen. Its setting with trees and hills is particularly lovely.

Commentators online who express a wish to have the performance venue and other goodies suggested by Southampton University could equally press to have those provided on that other famous development site, Silver Hill. Why should Cllr Learney, who is looking for a developer for that site, not propose that to the university? It isn’t far. After all, the University of Winchester has two campuses and students manage to move between them. It’s also big enough to provide the student housing that otherwise risks turning Abbots Barton into another Stanmore with the loss of family housing.

This is a bad proposal which councillors should reject.

Judith Martin,

Romsey Road,