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Land acquisition gives council control for regeneration vision

The disused former Friarsgate Medical Centre and five properties either side of the bus station entrance in the Broadway are now owned by Winchester City Council.

The council made the purchases to give it more scope to deliver its vision for the regeneration of central Winchester.

Winchester City Council leader, Cllr Caroline Horrill, explained why the ownership is so important. She said: “These purchases are a significant and positive step forward to achieving our vision for the regeneration of central Winchester. My Conservative Party Administration is determined to deliver the ambitions for the area which have been developed following extensive community and stakeholder engagement and consultation over the last 18 months.”

Options for the short term use of the Friarsgate site will be presented to a future meeting of Cabinet and work will start on refurbishing the High Street properties in the new year.

Progress with the central Winchester regeneration already includes:

* Purchasing and refurbishing the bus station last summer

* Full adoption of a supplementary planning document for the area

* Improving the overall look and feel of the public realm, including the Broadway

* Working with Winchester School of Art to incorporate artwork on the bus station site

* Refurbishing the former Antiques Market to become an art venue to meet the needs of a new tenant –The Nutshell – who will be hiring the venue to local creatives to use for rehearsals, workshops, exhibitions and small-scale productions; alongside resident companies the Discarded Nut Company and ENCORE Youth Theatre.

* Redeveloping Coitbury House into modern office accommodation

* Negotiating with businesses interested in using vacant office and shop space until the buildings are needed for redevelopment, including Winchester Pilates, the recent opening of The Blend Academy in previously inaccessible spaceabove Poundland in Middle Brook Street and the imminent opening (in January) of The Bike Hub at Open House Deli in the former Post Office building in Middle Brook Street.

Cllr Steve Miller, Portfolio Holder for Estates said: “We have funded the purchase and improvements through prudential borrowing and this entrepreneurial approach has strengthened our ability to unlock development opportunities at an early stage.”

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