Summary of what Winchester City Council says it intends to do

The decision taken by the Council’s Cabinet (NB NOT Full Council) on 23rd November 2021 – but rescinded on 25/01 because Friends of River Park pointed out it was unlawful – included the following:

  1. Cabinet agreed, as landowner of the River Park Leisure Centre, Gordon Road, Winchester, to enter into an agreement for lease to enable the University of Southampton to progress options for the extension of the neighbouring Winchester School of Art campus on the River Park Leisure Centre site.

  2. Cabinet agreed Heads of Terms for an Agreement for Lease. This Lease was to include a five-year long ‘stop date’, during which time the University of Southampton would investigate and obtain planning consent for their proposed development.

  3. Cabinet agreed to dispose of the land as identified within the red line on the plan to the University of Southampton on a 150-year ground lease, subject wholly to obligations set out in the Agreement for Lease.

  4. Relevant terms in the Agreement for Lease were:
  • There is to be no deposit or payment by the University to the Council for the initial five-year period.

  • Planning consent must be granted for ‘the campus scheme’ in outline prior to the disposal of the site at the end of the five-year period.

  • The University must pay an unquantified capital sum for the ‘purchase’ of the land before it enters into the remaining 145 years of the lease. Thereafter, it need only pay a ‘peppercorn’ (or nominal) rent per annum.

  • Before disposal to the University at the end of the five-year period, the Council must pay for the demolition of the Leisure Centre (estimated at £2m) as well as maintenance of the remaining buildings or structures (estimated at £80,000 per annum).

  • The Council will hand over vacant possession, i.e. a site free of tenancies, save for the Indoor Bowls Club. It will help facilitate the potential relocation of the Bowling Club and the popular Skate Park.

  • The permitted use of the site is to be restricted throughout the term so that, ‘for the first 35 years, the property shall be put to principal uses only of or in connection with tertiary education including ancillary university purposes only’.

  • The parties are said to have an ‘aspiration’ for the scheme to include provision for a publicly accessible performance space but without any fixed parameters around that as to the scope and extent of it.

  • The Buyer (University) will hold the land on a ‘virtual freehold basis’.

  • The Buyer will have no restriction on selling the site on to another.

  • The Buyer will have no obligation to repair (including during the initial 5-year period).

  • The Buyer will have absolute discretion over the campus scheme.

  • The Buyer will act in good faith in making available the green open areas of the site pending commencement of the main campus scheme works but the Buyer must have absolute discretion about whether, how much and for how long such arrangements subsist and they must not interfere with the Buyer’s own plans.

  • If the Buyer fails to implement the planning permission for the campus scheme (or any replacement or varied permission for a campus scheme) within 5 years from completing the purchase of the Property the Seller may buy back the Property for the same price as was paid by the Buyer (but bearing the Stamp Duty liability).

  • In addition, in the context of the long lease, the principle of potential shared use of the Buyer’s car park with the public is recognised as a matter to be further explored.

  • During the negotiation of and from the date of agreeing these Heads of Terms, the Seller will allow the Buyer exclusivity in respect of the Property such that the Seller (and its representatives) will not have or encourage any discussions with any third party in respect of the Property until exchange.
Categories: Update