ORGANISERS of a prestigious event say their decision to move it from Southampton to Portsmouth has highlighted the shortage of exhibition space in the city.

The South Coast Commercial Property Show is traditionally held at the Ageas Bowl, but this year's event will be staged 18 miles away following an increase in hire costs.

The show, billed as a "must-attend" event for anyone involved in the south coast property market, normally attracts around 500 people.

Hampshire Chronicle: The show is normally held at the Hilton Hotel at the Ageas BowlThe show is normally held at the Hilton Hotel at the Ageas Bowl (Image: Newsquest)

Organisers explored the possibility of keeping it in the city by using the Grand Harbour Hotel or St Mary's Stadium, home of Southampton FC, but both venues were ruled out.

Now they are calling for facilities to be provided on the former Leisure World site off West Quay Road.

Existing buildings are due to be demolished to make way for 650 homes, two 150-room hotels and 80 serviced hotel apartments, plus restaurants, offices, a cinema and a casino.

The property's show's director, Lucy Richmond, said Southampton was "crying out" for more facilities.

She added: "We are limited on space that offers an exhibition area, an auditorium, dining areas, and break-out rooms. The old Leisure World site would be perfect."

Hampshire Chronicle: This year's show will be held at Historic Dockyard Portsmouth, home of HMS VictoryThis year's show will be held at Historic Dockyard Portsmouth, home of HMS Victory (Image: PA)

Royston Smith, Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, was leader of the city council between 2010 and 2012, when Labour gained control of the authority.

He said: "I did everything I could to bring a conference and entertainment centre to Southampton.

"If I was still in charge I would have put in a bid to government for an arena while there are still Levelling Up funds, but our council decided it was more important to bid for public realm and bus stops, which the government were never going to fund.

"As long as Southampton’s Labour council continues to lack ambition we will continue to find ourselves losing out.

"It was exactly the same when the city didn’t even try to bring Ben Ainslie and the America’s Cup Team to Southampton. I am incredibly disappointed but no longer surprised."

This year's property show will be held at the Historic Dockyard Portsmouth in November.

A city council spokesperson said: "The show supports both the Southampton and Portsmouth property associations. As such the event being located in, or close to, either city on a revolving basis should be encouraged.

"To reflect this, our chief executive is due to present at the 2023 show in Portsmouth."