THE state of the derelict River Park Leisure Centre in Winchester was criticised at a recent council meeting. 

The site stands empty, two years after it was acquired by the University of Southampton. 

This came as Winchester City Council agreed its latest capital investment strategy at the full council meeting on February 22. 

It includes £485,000 for refurbishment works to the Guildhall to improve fire safety. However, the progress of some of the council's work was questioned. 

Cllr Malcolm Wallace, Green Party, said: “Planning approval for Winchester's new sport and leisure centre was received in 2018. Ever since then, the council has known that River Park Leisure Centre would be shutting its doors. But yet, more than five years later there still doesn't seem to be a plan for this site. It's difficult to understand the ongoing delays and why this site, in a prime location, is being left destitute. This leads to questions if other opportunities are being missed in other areas.”

READ MORE: Seven pictures show state of River Park leisure centre

Conservative group leader Cllr Caroline Horrill said: “So many of these projects were initiated at a time of Conservative leadership. But Central Winchester Regeneration is still to get off the starting blocks after taking months to sign the development agreement. 

“River Park - no action for two years. Having given the University of Southampton five years to give us a proposal, in the meantime we are dealing with a failing River Park facility. It's an absolute waste of a council asset, languishing with no meaningful progress as to the future. Is this administration slow, or are you worried people won't agree with what you decide?”

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, a Conservative, said: “No project in the capital programme is being delivered at pace. The only advice I can give is what my cricket captain used to say to me when I blocked another ball in a run chase. Get a bloomin' move on.”

Liberal Democrat councillor George Prest said: “Conservative councillors want to take us back in time. We're trying to make good of what they left us.”

Council leader Martin Tod said: “The development environment we face is hard because of the Conservatives. It was always the plan to have meanwhile uses in central Winchester. It makes a huge difference to that part of the city. 

“We have had the catastrophe of Silver Hill and we have rightly taken a different approach. We are proud of Winchester, we want to make it better.”

The capital investment strategy was approved.