POLICYMAKERS have approved a £400 million capital programme for Winchester over the next ten years to 2031.

The Cabinet at the city council plan to spend the money on bricks and mortar over the next decade.

Among the schemes in the programme are the new sports and leisure centre due to open this spring; tackling the climate emergency and creating a greener district, £17m; housing, £340m, including £239m on building 1,000 affordable homes; creating a vibrant local economy, £36.7m.

Some £500,000 will be spent on demolishing the Friarsgate medical centre and clearing the area for an interim open space before future development in the Silver Hill scheme. Demolition will save on business rates and maintaining the empty building, estimated at £64,000 a year.

The programme has been criticised by the Conservative opposition.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, Conservative group leader, told the scrutiny committee: "It lacks any great vision beyond the immediate. That should be concerning for all of us. Where is that creativity?"

"Where is that economic strategy that we had hoped for – that we all need to bring back growth in this changing environment?"

Tory councillor Steve Miller told Cabinet: "I'm worried so many projects are dithering around and not being brought forward costing the council money in interest; Station Approach, you have not bothered to secure planning permission to secure its value. You don't have a plan you are just burning money up there.

"All the projects are slipping all the time. I despair money being spent on interest because of delays and dithering."

"Our approach is slightly different to the previous administration's," responded Cllr Neil Cutler, referring to the Conservative administration led by Cllr Horrill. "We don't treat this as a wishlist and put down estimate figures. We put things we know are going to get done."

Cllr Kelsie Learney said Station Approach has a car park which is currently bringing in revenue. If the site was cleared it won't. The Bar End Depot is being used by Willmott Dixon, the contractors on the sports centre.

She added: "This is a prudent programme that isn't going to land the council in financial difficulty in the future."

Cllr Cutler added: "I make no apology for us being cautious. The world is changing dramatically. To pile in to new schemes when you have no idea how the world is changing would be reckless."

One major item of extra expenditure, £250,000, has been for the work on the walkway at The Weirs.

Additional reporting: Andrew Napier