Church leaders and architects outlined an ambitious project that could cost up to £7 million at a public meeting in the abbey nave on Saturday July 10.

A new cloister was proposed on the southern side of the church, an enclosed walkway to run alongside the Abbey to preserve the external Saxon Rood and plans to adapt space inside the church were all up for discussion.

Architect Neill Beasley, of The Genesis Design Studio, showed his ideas to the meeting with the cloister to be a modern extension to the Abbey.

Neill said: "In order to get funding the thinking needs to be big."

The proposals were well received across the board, and people felt encouraged about a cross-generational approach to the future of the Abbey.

The Secretary of the Romsey District Society said: " The Planning Committee of the 800 strong Romsey and District Society commented that the Society was aware of the proposals which were first mooted in 2014.

“It would be good to give the proposals much more publicity so that links with the town residents would be strengthened and the benefits of this exciting project, such as increasing town centre footfall, become fully understood.

“It improves parish facilities, offers a way to enhance the visitor experience and it retains the unique architecture of an historic building, particularly the protection of the treasured Saxon Rood.

“Of course, it is an ambitious project of national importance and funding will be challenging but we believe surmountable.”

The Abbey also aims for zero net carbon emissions but plans to adapt have not been decided yet due to the nature of the graded building.

Enhancing visitor experience and tourism was high up on the agenda as to increase footfall in the town.

Mr Wharton said: “It ties together nicely with the development of the south side of town, kind of an extension.”

Mayor of Romsey Town, Karen Dunleavey said: “I think the designs look really exciting, the modern design sits nicely with the old. Complimentary. I think the reactions were positive, people want the Abbey and the town to do well.”

Any developments may not start for some years to come as any plans to adapt Romsey Abbey will need to be discussed with English Heritage and agreements as to not hinder the 900 year old, historical landmark.