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River Park Leisure Centre update – University of Southampton in talks with city council

In a Public Briefing yesterdayWinchester City Council announced that it has been working with Russell Group member, The University of Southampton to help develop plans for the land adjacent to their existing Winchester School of Art site. The university will be given a five year period to develop proposals for the site to expand the university's offering in the city of Winchester.  

The university, working with Winchester City Council, has held a series of stakeholder briefings including an open public meeting on November 1st to update local people on the proposals. During these events, the university has outlined its ambition for a state-of-the-art, sustainable campus which offers benefits for the city’s economy and opportunities to develop youth employability whilst retaining the existing green space and outdoor public leisure facilities surrounding the site.

The council’s Cabinet will consider awarding a five-year lease on the River Park site to the university at their meeting on 23 November. This would enable the university to develop their proposals and bring forward a planning application and, if successful, a long term (150-year) lease would then be awarded.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Winchester City Council Cabinet Member for Asset Management, said:

“We promised an autumn update relating to the old River Park Leisure Centre site and can confirm we have been approached by The University of Southampton as they are considering the option of an expanded campus facility in Winchester.

“This is an exciting prospect for Winchester, as it looks to the long term recovery from the pandemic, and we’re in alignment with the university strategically in terms of our priorities as a council – to boost the economy, offer opportunity, develop sustainably and consider the cultural offer in our vibrant city.

“We’re keen to work with our key partner organisation as they explore the options available to them and it was important to hear the views of local people at the public meeting in the lead up to our Cabinet in November.”

Wendy Appleby Vice President (Operations) of the University of Southampton said:

“The University is keen to strengthen and enrich our existing relationship with the city of Winchester and is excited to work with local residents and businesses. As a Russell Group University, we bring world-class research, internationally recognised education and outstanding enterprise opportunities to the partnership. During the next five years, we look forward to thoroughly exploring what we can bring to this site for the mutual benefit of our academic community and the people of Winchester.” 

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