EAST Hampshire District Council’s cabinet has given its seal of approval to a development brief for the former Molson Coors brewery site in Alton.

Following the closure of the brewery at the end of May last year, ending 52 years of brewing on the Manor Park site, Molson Coors joined forces with the district council and Alton Town Council to commission specialist consultants AECOM to produce a development brief, setting out how the site can be best used, in a deliverable and viable way, to advise planners as they decide on future planning applications.

Following extensive public consultation, the final brief was presented to Alton Town Council at a full council meeting last Wednesday and passed by East Hampshire District Council cabinet on the following day.

The result shows the majority of the 12.8 acre site given over to residential development, with potential for a hotel, plus employment uses and a plot of land allocated for community use.

In a presentation to Alton Town Council, Simon Jenkins, East Hampshire District Council’s head of planning, said that the idea would be to provide a flexible community building of a size to accommodate the same or more of the facilities currently on offer at the town’s existing community centre but with an opportunity to expand at a further date.

The Grade II Listed Culverton House is to be retained but in an improved setting with appropriate use viewed as residential, a possible GP surgery or headquarters for commercial interests on site.

Key to the appearance, the brief also shows the opening up of the River Wey as it flows through the heart of the site to provide a ‘green spine’ with a walk way and a bridge for vehicular access.

Councillors heard that the principal access to the site would be via the current access point just before the railway bridge on Upper Turk Street, with a second entrance off Drayman’s Way.

While there had been talk of an undercroft car park, to serve the town centre as well as the site, according to Mr Jenkins, a survey had shown the town’s current car parks to be underused, so it was not deemed necessary, despite councillors pointing out that on-street parking was becoming a real problem as people avoided parking charges.

While councillors voted (with one abstention) to accept the development brief, Mr Jenkins thanked the town council for its input and hoped this would be a model for work on future planning matters.

In response to concerns over the impact of the Brexit vote on future development of the site, Mr Jenkins said that while he could see the decision impacting on perimeter sites in Alton he was confident the brief would make the brewery appealing to a developer and that Molson Coors would now go ahead and market the site.

The timescale included selection of a preferred development partner in the autumn, with a planning application expected to come forward early next year for a decision by the summer, with work starting on site by late 2017.