A DETAILED plan about how the public will be involved in plans regarding the redevelopment of the West Ham Leisure Park will be in place by January.

NewRiver Retail were due to redevelop the complex into a designer retail village and a host of new leisure facilities, but they pulled out of the scheme in October.

This left huge questions marks over the future of Basingstoke leisure park, with £300 million of private sector investment vanishing.

It will mean a "more organic and gradual" redevelopment.

But there was concern after a council officer suggested a much-criticised, secretive, members' advisory panel (MAP) was a suitable solution for to include the public in the next stage of the process.

Cllr Jenny Vaux, chair of the community environment and partnerships committee, told members of her committee last week: “At full council it was resolved to involve the public in the redevelopment of a wider vision and any specific new solutions to the leisure park and to ensure that they get their right to have their say by referring this issue to the community, environment and partnership committee.

“The community, environment and partnership committee are being asked to ensure the public are involved and have their say in the wider vision of the leisure park.”

Kate Dean, project lead for the delivery of the redevelopment project said she envisions there being an engagement plan by January 2022 and the creation of a MAP.

Cllr Jacky Tustain (Labour, Popley) shared her concerns about the proposed plan to use MAPs and said that the meetings are something that “goes against” involving the public.

She said: “I am straightaway concerned about the MAP idea because doesn’t that just go against involving the public because we don’t have those open to them.”

“If we could see what the public engagement would be through not just online surveys but to include things like sports trusts, big representatives so that you get that representation from citizens who actually know what would be good.

“A focus group might be a really good way forward.”

During the same full council meeting in October, borough councillors voted in favour of continuing secrecy and against opening the secretive member’s advisory panel (MAPs) to the public.

Cllr Mark Ruffell (Conservative, Basing and Upton Grey) had said: “I have been a cabinet member for about 7 years. I've not had a single complaint from a single cllr and single member of the public.

“I think they work well. If the public could see how MAPs work they'd be in shock. There's no student politics. We just work well. We've achieved so much together. I feel we're achieving so much in the current local plan, and the climate change actions I'm trying to introduce.

"For me it's like a chef. A chef does prep in the morning, but you don't invite the diners to see what they're doing."

Ms Dean said the public would be involved though public engagement, as done with the town centre strategy.

The town centre strategy comprised of MAPs and extensive public engagement, which were done through online surveys, one to one meetings and pop ups in the town centre.

She added: “So the public is being very actively involved in the redevelopment of that town centre strategy.

“The intention would be to do the same for the plans for the leisure park.”

Cllr Simon Mahaffey (Conservative, Bramley), said: “We need residents to understand that the focus has completely changed and that we are focusing completely on the redevelopment of the leisure park and at this stage there is no consideration of a new retail park.”

“If we can dig up some of the history and include it into the papers that we put to the public because none of us know the history, but our residents do have a very long memory.”

Cllr Vaux added: “Since that full council meeting the whole world has changed for the leisure park so it’s very timely but what we can expect in January is a detailed plan about how we will go ahead with public engagement and involvement in the new plans for the leisure park.”