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Council approves first steps for future of Friarsgate

Winchester City Council has today (24 May) approved proposals to demolish the derelict Friarsgate Medical Centre in central Winchester.

Alongside the demolition, the proposals include a range of early improvement work - before longer term plans are developed - to improve public access and enjoyment of the open space on the site, and allow for important archaeological works too.

The council-owned, now derelict, Friarsgate Medical Centre has been vacant since 2014 and due to the condition, alternative uses are not feasible.  The two 1960s brick buildings, which have significantly deteriorated over time, are connected by a short, glazed walkway over a tributary of the River Itchen. 

The proposals will allow access to and enhancement of the existing open space in the area, incorporating a broad range of features to benefit local people.

The site will be characterised by three areas: an archaeological dig area, a ‘pop up’ park within the centre of the site; and the third section to the east.

The dig area will have attractively designed hoardings with windows to allow visitors to view the dig – students and volunteers will also be able to access the site. The ‘pop-up’ park within the centre of the site, underneath which runs a tributary of the River Itchen, will include tree planting in wooden planters to encourage biodiversity and paths and walkways to improve visual access to the river.

The third section to the East, will see the addition of appropriate seating and an informal teaching area including an area for archaeology and cultural events.

The removal of the building will open up views of the waterways and across the site of the Guildhall and Cathedral. Building materials would be reused or repurposed where possible with the overall aim of diverting as much waste as possible – at least 95% - from landfill.

Friarsgate is within the wider regeneration programme for the Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) area which is being taken forward by the Council together with recently appointed development partner, Jigsaw Consortium. 

Jigsaw will be engaging and consulting with local residents, businesses, and other local organisations as they develop these longer terms plans.

Cllr Martin Tod, Leader of the Council, said:

"This is another move forward in sorting out the run-down parts of central Winchester alongside working with local people to develop plans for the redevelopment of the entire site. I'm particularly pleased that we can use this opportunity to do further archaeological work and give people the chance to learn about more about this part of the city while the longer-term plans for the site are worked on."

It is expected that demolition will take place in early autumn, with an archaeological partner appointed and a programme of work formed over the coming weeks and months.

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