THE former Molson Coors brewery should be redeveloped as a mixed-use scheme comprising a community hub with flexible facilities, with minimal retail, and the emphasis on providing new and affordable housing.

That’s according to the first public consultation into the future use of the redundant site, which also finds that it is important to people that the development reflects the legacy of the site and is respectful to the character of the town, while maximising open space and pubic realm.

Some 200 people attended an exhibition in December hosted by landowner Molson Coors in partnership with East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) and Alton Town Council to hear about the first stage in the production of a development brief for the site which is expected by the end of April.

The team has jointly commissioned specialist consultant AECOM to work on the brief to ensure the resulting document is deliverable and viable. And it will monitor progress and approve the various stages of development.

Molson Coors closed the brewery at the end of May last year, ending 52 years of brewing on the Manor Park site and triggering 108 redundancies.

Decommissioning of the site has taken place and Molson Coors is looking for a redevelopment partner, but first it has to be clear on what planning uses would be considered appropriate for the highly sensitive town centre location.

EHDC has now revealed that, according to feedback, the majority of residents who took part in the December consultation would be happy to see it used for homes.

Other popular suggestions included shops, a leisure complex, a community centre, additional employment and open space.

Residents were also asked what opportunity the redevelopment of the brewery site brought to the town. The enhancement of the River Wey, attracting visitors, and the chance to build new homes were the most common responses.

Traffic congestion, flooding and decline of the High Street were cited as potential problems that could be associated with the development.

Commenting on the process to date, Jim Strike, director of AECOM, said: “We are delighted that so many Alton residents came to view the exhibition and to give us their thoughts on what should be done with the Molson Coors site.

“The vast majority of the attendees live or work in the town, so it shows just how important this site is to local people. The results we received were fascinating and informative and will really help us form a plan for the future development of the area.”

District councillor Angela Glass added: “I was delighted to see the consultation event was so well attended. We got some really great feedback and we will be using this information as we continue into the next phase of the consultation.”

According to Mr Strike, those who were unable to attend the exhibition in December but would like to comment on the future development of the site will have more opportunities to have their say as the project progresses.