A PUBLIC consultation will take place this summer to help develop the site at the old River Park Leisure Centre.

In March, Winchester City Council approved the disposal of the site including the skate park and bowls club on a 150-year lease to Southampton University.

The university wants to expand its School of Art campus on Park Avenue, as well as developing the former North Walls police station site.

This was met by chaotic scenes at Winchester Guildhall as protesters tried to enter the meeting.

On an online forum, Cllr John Tippett-Cooper explained the next steps of the process.

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Cllr Tippett-Cooper said: “The playing fields, the play area, and the open green space of River Park remain fully protected. These areas are not being leased or sold and remain fully protected as open space.

“The agreement only includes the footprint of the old leisure centre building, part of the carpark, the indoor bowls club and the skatepark.

“The only ‘green’ spaces included in the area to be leased are some small grass verges next to the water. The public will still be able to walk throughout the River Park site.

“The University wants to include the old leisure centre site to build an attractive building that will include community facilities, such as performance and exhibitions space, library facilities and a café; all part of a multi-million pound investment in Winchester.”

Cllr Tippett-Cooper also provided details about the public consultation.

He said: “The University of Southampton now has five years to develop a plan for the site and go through the planning process before a formal lease is entered into.

“They will launch a public consultation process in the summer to help design the site. We expect there will be lots of opportunities for the public to comment on and provide their views on the university’s plans before any spade enters the ground.

“We have also been working with the University to get agreement to establishing a residents’ forum where you will be able to meet with them and discuss the proposal directly. We expect those meetings to start shortly.”

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