BASINGSTOKE could become a university town - and one of the sites under consideration is controversial Manydown.

King Alfred's College, which is based in Winchester, is considering building a new campus in the town following the success of Chute House, the building it renovated over the summer to deliver university-style degrees.

Gill Longman, the head of communication and marketing services at the college, said: "We always hoped that Chute House might be the start of something in Basingstoke, but it depends on how it goes. It's going well at the moment. Student numbers are growing and more courses are planned for next year.

"Both Basingstoke and Hampshire councils have talked about other possible sites, one of which is Manydown, but it's only one of a range of alternatives. The response to Chute House has proved that there's a need, but where we go depends on our partnership with the borough and county councils."

Tony Curtis, corporate director and deputy chief executive of Basingstoke council, said he was aware that preliminary ideas for a university campus had been mooted. He added: "My initial reaction is that the principle of having a full blown university in Basingstoke and Deane would be very well received and regarded as a major addition to the facilities for our community.

"This can only add to the economic strength of Basingstoke, providing local employers with an excellent source of well qualified employees to meet their business needs.

"It would also significantly improve the learning opportunities for our young people and hopefully encourage them to study within the community."

Cllr Paul Harvey, Cabinet member for employment skills and learning, added: "It would be a superb addition to Basingstoke. Things are really taking off for education in the town. There are still serious issues we need to sort out, but things are looking up. It's a big piece of the puzzle falling into place.

"We have already been working on it for a while, and to watch it come to fruition would be wonderful, but we need a lot more things to fall into place first."

King Alfred's was granted university college status in August, which means it now has the power to award its own degrees, and the college is hoping to be awarded full university status following a Government White Paper on university education.