A GROUP of residents has issued a legal challenge to the city council over its plans for a redundant leisure centre.

The newly-formed ‘Friends of River Park’ has told the Winchester’s council it will seek a judicial review of the council’s plans to work with Southampton University over an expansion of its School of Art campus on Gordon Avenue.

Local people are unhappy about the level of public consultation before the decision to lease the River Park Leisure Centre site to the university was announced in the autumn.

The leisure centre was opened in the 1970s but closed in the spring with the opening of the new £38m centre at Bar End.

The campaigners said: “There was no notice and no opportunity for public debate about the future uses of this publicly owned space.

“Rapid action by a group to be known as Friends of River Park has resulted in the issuing of formal notice to the Council of their intention to apply for a Judicial Review.

“This will be the fifth Judicial Review of Council decisions since February 2015. It will be the fourth that relates to sites under its control and for development it is promoting and, to date, all the challenges to the council’s actions have been successful.

"It is unprecedented that the Council should continue to act unlawfully over its dealings with Winchester’s land assets and people will no doubt be wondering about the unnecessary expenditure of precious taxpayers’ money and resources.”

Previous judicial reviews have included Cllr Kim Gottlieb’s challenge over Silver Hill and more recently the action by Domum Road residents over the new multi-storey car park at Bar End.

The Friends of River Park statement draws attention to the historic roots of the leisure centre which stem from the opening of a public park in the early 20th century.

The Echo has asked for comment from the city council and members of the Cabinet.