A SENIOR councillor has admitted his disappointment the city is council is not taking the lead on a project to deliver a new multi-purpose building at a Winchester green space.

Councillor Malcolm Prince made the admission at a cabinet meeting while discussions were taking place over the future of the River Park Leisure Centre site.

The cabinet member for sport, leisure and communities said the local authority should be doing its utmost to support the Winchester Pavilion Project, which a grassroots movement attempting to replace the decrepit building on North Walls Recreation Ground.

"I am disappointed that the council is not taking or owning responsibility for the pavilion," said Cllr Prince. "I note that although this is within the realms of the Town Forum the green area is used for outdoor recreation and sport by many organisations. The ability to help fund this is certainly from this council.

He added: "On this, I will ask the question are we ignoring the residents as well who have raised a significant amount?

"I am sorry I am saying this but I am passionate that we need to continue to provide outside leisure facilities for the outdoor recreation that happens and not have a prolonged wait for an unknown outcome."

In response, Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, said the green space fell under the remit of the Town Forum, with the subject of pavilions due to be discussed at a meeting in November. "I think it is important in this kind of context we do treat the Town Forum as we would as parish council, where it needs to consider its own financial position, its own financial resources, look at what its requirements are and then, if necessary, it can come back to cabinet and ask for any extra funding," she said. "I don't think the Town Forum is anywhere near there yet."

Cllr Learney said the closure of River Park Leisure Centre at the end of next year added an "extra complication" with the loss of toilet facilities and additional refreshment facilities, which cannot necessarily be met through the existing projects on the table.

As previously reported, the popular council-owned facility in Gordon Road is set to be replaced by the new complex at Bar End, which is currently under construction.

Cllr Learney said: "It is impractical to keep the existing building open, as has been suggested, for extra sports hall space. The combined heat and power unit is designed to run a swimming pool and almost coincidently heats and lights the sports hall. "Not only the costs involved but with climate emergency it would be unacceptable to keep it running. This does leave us with the issue of what we do with that building to be considered and we certainly need to bring a lot more detail back on that."