SIR: I have been following the council’s deliberations on the land at River Park, and feel that the decision should be most heavily informed by the words of the council’s own local plan.

The plan is quite clear on the overall strategy for Winchester. It seems to me to support a lido far more than a new building, or several buildings. The lido suggestion clearly has massive local support, as evidenced by the petition, which was signed by approaching one in 10 people living in the city. This support should be recognised, and acted upon, as the plan states:

“The city needs strong leadership prepared to make difficult choices but before that, trust must be (re)established and this can be achieved by listening to people.”

I understand that there is concern that the land is subject to flooding with river water. Bearing in mind that the Itchen is a navigable river, in which people swim all year round without ill effects, there does not seem to be a justified objection here. However, if the land is built on, then any flooding will inevitably simply be displaced downstream. We have already seen parts of central Winchester by the City Mill and Water Lane flooded over recent years. Building on River Park would exacerbate that flooding. The plan also states that the city will:

“Tackle the climate crisis by building resilient communities that have learned to self-organise and work together.

“Enable communities to respond and adapt to the effects of climate change ensuring that development is appropriately designed and located and can be adapted.”

“Require development to be resilient to climate change challenges, innovative, energy efficient, sustainably constructed and designed and meet health and well-being needs.”

These last two quite clearly support health-oriented developments such as the Lido, rather than further building on flood plain land.

A few decades ago, every substantial town across the south had a lido. They were excellent places for young people to go in the summer holidays, and those which still exist are very successful and valued.

The centre of Winchester does not have an abundance of healthy activities for young people. Indeed, the removal of the swimming pool to Bar End has resulted in a situation where most will only be able to go if they are driven there. Again, The local plan states the city will: “Strengthen and create healthy communities that are connected, with easily accessible open spaces and green/blue infrastructure, and support sustainable travel choices including walking and cycling.

“Aim to create communities that are focussed on green spaces, reduces health inequalities and creates a healthy environment in the district by having good access to services, schools and facilities within walking distance.”

I do not believe that either of these will be served by new buildings for the University of Southampton on the River Park site. I also understand that they have other sites available on which to build. There is nothing to stop them building an auditorium for the city elsewhere.

A lido would clearly count as valuable green/blue infrastructure, if properly designed. A concert hall, an auditorium, a cultural quarter? Not really. If the city really means what it says in its own local plan, then the ido plan is clearly preferable, and the decision would be a popular one.

Justin Rowles

Old Stoke Road,

Stoke Charity

SIR: Following your leading article in the Hampshire Chronicle of the December 30 I should like to add my total support to the Friends of River Park who are seeking a judicial review of the councils plans. I fully agree with the reservations expressed in your article.

The future of River Park should be decided by the Winchester community meeting their views and needs over this public park. Including facilities not provided adequately by the new Sports Centre.

In no way should this site be given over to Southampton University who have no inherent right to take on for their needs and do not have the Winchester interests as their prior objective.

In earlier articles there had been a suggestion a new access would be created to allow better access for the students to develop the night time economy. The last thing Winchester needs.

I do not try to identify the community needs but these views should be established by proper public debate.

Lawrence D Jones,

Dean Lane,



SIR: Readers who are interested/concerned at the future of the Leisure Centre and the proposal by the city council to grant a 150 year lease to Southampton University may wish to look at the Public Notices on page 61 of Chronicle dated January 6 2022. Winchester City Council have published a Notice of Proposed Disposal of Open Space Land, known as the Skate Park and Riverside Indoor Bowling Club. The council is proposing to enter into an agreement to grant a lease for a term of 150 years of the area described, which the notice states may or may not be open space, to the University of Southampton. The notice states the lease will contain terms to continue the current use of the land unless an equivalent alternative facility is provided.

Interested parties have until 4pm on 4 February to object to the proposed leasehold disposal. The notice indicates where objections should be sent to at the city council.

K Edwards,

Test Rise,