Winchester City Council has agreed to buy the freehold of the bus station site in central Winchester from bus operator Stagecoach.
The investment ensures the future of bus operations in the city centre and will generate income through agreements with bus companies for continued use of the station.
The City Council intends to make improvements to the site in the short-term and to propose changes that will improve the flow of buses through the town and increase pedestrian safety. In the longer-term, the purchase will bring new opportunities and have significant benefits for the regeneration of central Winchester and the continuing provision of bus services.
Initial changes to improve the routing of buses will be on an interim basis and will not constrain further consideration of bus provision and routes in the town centre as part of engagement work being undertaken by architects JTP, Hampshire County Council’s Transport Study or the Central Winchester Regeneration Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
The acquisition exemplifies the City Council’s new entrepreneurial approach to the delivery of public services. The Council is taking an active role in securing strategically important property and creating an opportunity for future income generation.
The purchase will support Winchester as a successful economic and service centre and improve health and happiness by ensuring that public transport options remain available to the local community. It will begin to enhance the environment by improving the poor quality of the current bus interchange.
The £4m purchase will be completed by the end of April 2017 as part of the Council’s new Asset Purchase Scheme.
The decision brings to a conclusion more than 20 years of negotiations over the site which started in the 1990s when Stagecoach first indicated a desire to vacate the bus station.
The purchase was agreed at special meetings of Winchester City Council’s Cabinet and Council (5 April) and was supported by members unanimously.