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University of Southampton to explore expansion plans at former RPLC site

Winchester City Council’s Cabinet has approved an Agreement to Lease on the River Park site to the University of Southampton at their meeting on 23 November. This will now enable the university to develop their proposals in consultation with local people, bring forward a planning application and, if successful, a longer term (150 year) lease would then be awarded.

The council’s Cabinet has agreed to allow the University of Southampton to explore expansion plans. The ambitious plans, part of a wider development programme for the university, looks to modernise the existing Winchester School of Art campus and extend into the site of the now decommissioned River Park Leisure Centre.

The university, working with Winchester City Council, held a series of public and stakeholder briefings to update local people on the proposals. During these events, they outlined their vision for a state-of-the-art, sustainable campus which would offer benefits for the city’s economy whilst retaining the existing green space and outdoor public leisure facilities surrounding the site.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Asset Management, said,

“This is an exciting prospect for Winchester, as it looks to our long term recovery from the pandemic and will ensure that this much loved area remains vibrant. Our two organisations are in alignment strategically - any development will be undertaken sustainably and as well as the economic benefits that an extended campus would bring, the university are also keen to create a cultural resource for our city - something which we know local people are keen to see.”

Wendy Appleby, Vice-President (Operations) at the University of Southampton said,

“We have had an extremely positive interaction with Winchester City Council and the people of Winchester so far and are excited to develop our thoughts for the use of this site.

The Winchester School of Art has a long history in the city and is held in high regard by many; I am certain that an increased University of Southampton presence in Winchester will bring many benefits to the community, both economic and cultural. It is already clear to us that public interest in this site and any scheme for its future use is high; we look forward to working collaboratively and ensuring our plans deliver the best that we can bring to Winchester.”

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