HAMPSHIRE Gardens Trust has joined the campaign to stop the disposal of the River Park Leisure Centre in Winchester .

The city council proposes to transfer the building and some of the surrounding land on a long lease to Southampton University.

An action group, called the Friends of River Park, is taking legal action to stop the disposal.

Now in its latest newsletter the gardens trust has criticised the city council.

Its concerns include the loss of public open space, the impact on the nearby Winnall Moors nature reserve and the proposals despite a covenant in 1902 which gifted the site to the city council for use by the public.

READ MORE HERE: Stagecoach urges the public to take up £2 fare offer

Ted Wake, chairman and Janet Hurrell, senior member, state: "If WCC is allowed to proceed with their plan, they will hand over control of the building and surrounding land that currently forms a vital part of the city’s main green artery, running from Winnall Moors Nature Reserve to St Cross.

"Whilst we all sympathise with the Council which has the responsibility of re-purposing the site, it is hard to understand why WCC has taken such a short-term view that could permanently scar this crucial element of the City’s green space and denies residents and visitors access to that part of the park in future.

"The Trust has already sent in comments to Winchester City Council reflecting our concerns for allowing the sale of this priceless public asset, it being one of the key characteristics which make Winchester such a civilised location with green arteries running through its centre and access to the countryside beyond.

"Finally, we also believe that it is a duty of a charity such as ours to draw attention to Covenants that were put in place by previous generations who, thankfully, had the foresight to protect urban green spaces, and to highlight our support for the tenets held by the Fields in Trust regarding such valued spaces. Ultimately, it is up to you as individuals to decide whether you are comfortable with what is happening within the currently public Recreation Ground in Winchester, or not – and if you are concerned, please do look at the Friends of River Park website (https://www.riverparkwinchester.org/).