THE case for a new multi-million pound leisure hub grows stronger by the month.
That’s the message from Havant borough’s regeneration leader, Councillor David Guest.
It comes as a new twist has come in the saga of the redevelopment of Waterlooville’s sprawling BAE site, off Hambledon Road.
Earlier this year Hargreaves, which owns the site, was given permission to convert the one remaining building on the land into either leisure facilities or non-food retail uses.
But now it wants to demolish this building altogether to ‘facilitate the future redevelopment of the site’.
Local people have been demanding a bowling alley and cinema complex for many years.
While no announcements have been given by Hargreaves, Cllr Guest believes the argument for leisure uses grows stronger as Waterlooville expands.
He has seen the growth of West Quay in Southampton – with a large cinema and dozens of restaurants – and believes Waterlooville could have a slice of this success.
Cllr Guest said: ‘If you look at the Waterlooville Major Development Area and the number of houses that have been built – with Barratt about to start Phase Four which is the very large next phase – more people are going to want entertainment and more people are going to be travelling out of Waterlooville if there’s none there.
‘The economic argument for more leisure facilities grows month by month and year by year.’
Cllr Guest said converting the building may have been hugely costly for the developer.
He said: ‘We look forward to finding a real end user that’s going to provide leisure or entertainment.’
And he added: ‘We have told them we want leisure and they are working towards that.
‘It might be soon that they will make an announcement but I don’t know.’
David Crichton, the former chairman of Waterlooville Community Forum, was more cautious and said the future of the site was still wide open.
A DIY or homeware retailer has been mooted. A McDonald’s and Lidl are confirmed.
‘The purpose of demolition could be anything at all,’ he said.
A planning statement from Hargreaves, which built Havant’s retail parks, said: ‘The developer is committed to bringing forward beneficial economic reuse of the site.’