Councils agree school site’s importance in Winklebury regeneration

Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have committed to working with the local community to develop plans for the future use of Fort Hill Secondary School site which will contribute to the regeneration of Winklebury

Jul 17 2018

Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council said: “Undoubtedly, the land on which the former school stands offers many opportunities. It is possible that the site could be redeveloped for a range of uses that may include community facilities, public open space and a proportion of new, affordable local homes.

“When feasible options have been identified, we will gather the views of local residents and other stakeholders before any final decisions are made. We welcome the support of the Winklebury Community Action Group in developing those plans, as well as the input of the wider community.”

Councillor Clive Sanders, Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “This is a great opportunity and we have been speaking with local residents and businesses, most recently at the Winklebury Gala, to discuss how the area can be improved as part of the Winklebury Regeneration project. Initial ideas for the site include community facilities and public open space for the wider community to access.

“Once a decision has been made by Hampshire County Council, we are committed to working closely with all partners, the Winklebury Community Action Group and the wider community to find the best option that will benefit everyone in Winklebury and make the area a great place to live and work.”

The school site will cease to be used for secondary education purposes at the end of the current academic year (July 2018) but the existing pre-school nursery is being maintained and will be incorporated into future plans for the site.

With regard to the existing school buildings, the following options have been investigated but have proved to be unviable:

• Use of the existing buildings for community use: it is agreed that this would not be feasible, owing to the age and condition of the buildings and high ongoing maintenance and running costs of the site (This is currently between £250,000 and £300,000 per annum),

• Use of existing facilities for council public service(s) use: this would not be financially viable since a substantially high level of re-investment would be required to ensure the facilities could be modernised and made fit for purpose

• Re-use of buildings to support the neighbouring Manydown development: investigations for re-use of the buildings to support the Manydown development have demonstrated that this option would be impractical and potentially delay any site redevelopment.

Given that the buildings offer no potential for re-use, Hampshire County Council is considering a proposal to demolish the buildings, in order to pave the way for alternative use(s) of the site. The site is a protected Scheduled Ancient Monument however, and any future proposals will need to respect this status.

Proposals for the future use of the site will be developed over the coming months and all stakeholders will have the chance to contribute their views on these proposals, as they emerge.

Hampshire County Council remains committed to working in partnership with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, the Winklebury Regeneration Group, the wider community and other key stakeholders to identify an option for the site’s use that will have the most positive impact on the area’s regeneration and its community.