PLANS for a multimillion-pound “nature-based campus” in Romsey, which could create 150 jobs, have been revealed.

An application has been submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to transform the old aquatic centre, Romsey World of Water in Greatbridge Road, into a site that would feature a cafe, visitors’ centre and a place to view birds on the Fishlake Meadows Nature Reserve, next to the development.

If approved, the site would boast 226 car parking spaces, including ten disabled spaces, as well as retail space.

The site was occupied by Southern Aquatics & Pets until June 30 after Romsey World of Water went bust in January.

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Romsey Advertiser: Where visitors could view birds from Where visitors could view birds from

Lead consultant and director for HPW Architecture Ltd, Gary Wilburn, says the “nature-based campus” could generate “150 jobs”, “provides a £10m green infrastructure investment” and would give better access to the nature reserve.

The 57-year-old added that the applicant, Azure One Limited, has been working with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) to “ensure the development improves the area for wildlife and offers opportunities for those working or visiting to enjoy and connect with nature”.

Chief Executive of HIWWT, Debbie Tann, said: “This disused site sits next to our nature reserve, Fishlake Meadows – a wonderful wildlife haven on the edge of Romsey.

“There is a real opportunity to bring nature to the fore here and we are happy to be working with the team to help ensure that the development is sensitive to the special wildlife of our nature reserve, and delivers genuine benefits for both wildlife and local people.”

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Romsey Advertiser: The site could cost £10mThe site could cost £10m

Now, community leaders have had their say on the plans.

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: “If the whole thing is going to be based on nature and it complements Fishlake Meadows then I don’t have a problem with it.

“The people who previously complained about the plans for the Dukes Head [in Greatbridge Road] over access could well be shocked when they see what could be put here.”

Deputy leader for TVBC, Cllr Nick Adams-King, said: “I’m interested to see the proposal in detail, which potentially offers an interesting opportunity to enhance the facilities offered for visitors to Fishlake Meadows.

“How the office development can benefit the community by way of enabling the Wildlife Trust facilities will be key.”

He added: “This is an incredibly important site at the entrance to Romsey and adjacent to our wonderful nature reserve, I feel passionately we should only accept the highest quality development worthy of this unique location.”

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Cllr Nik Daas, who represents Romsey Abbey on the borough council, added: “During lockdown, people have really appreciated the opportunity to go outside and enjoy a bit of nature.

“If we can extend that a bit further that can only be a good thing.”

As reported, Southern Aquatics & Pets revealed they moved into the site just weeks after Romsey World of Water went bust to initially look after the remaining fish.

Director of Southern Aquatics & Pets, James Henniker-Parker, told the Romsey Advertiser they were given “a lease to trade by the administrators [Quantuma]”.

He added their last day of trading was on June 30 after “failing to reach an agreement with the land owner”, meaning they had to “pull out of the site”.