A POPULAR Hampshire lake looks set for a £2.5m upgrade – with plans unveiled for a new water sports centre.

Council chiefs revealed the proposal for Lakeside Country Park in Eastleigh which would modernise current facilities in a bid to attract more customers to use it.

Under the plan, the current storage barns and small visitors’ centre would be demolished, making way for two new buildings with six changing rooms, improved storage, toilets, catering, a function room capable of seating 60 people and – for the first time – a changing facility for disabled users.

Other ideas are solar panels and a green or “living” roof covered in vegetation.

The lakes, near junction five of the M27 on Wide Lane, were created when gravel was taken to make the motorway.

They are currently used for fishing, canoeing and kayaking as well as managed open-water swimming sessions twice a week in the summer.

A number of local colleges, Scout groups as well as clubs, including Eastleigh and District Model Boat Club, use Lakeside. Newfoundland dogs are also trained for water rescue there.

The estimated cost of delivering the project, including construction and design, is just less than £2.5m, though no planning application has been submitted yet.

The council has already committed £1m from its New Homes Bonus to the project – money that comes from central Government for building social housing.

But the idea has been questioned by Conservative opposition leader Councillor Godfrey Olson, who said: “I wonder whether there are not greater priorities in the borough than spending that amount.”

He questioned where the funds would come from and whether any increase in takings would repay this cost, at least short term.

However, council leader Councillor Keith House said that the remainder of funding would be through future income from the centre and there was no plan to increase charges to those who currently use the facility.

Residents can hear a presentation at the Eastleigh Local Committee meeting at the civic offices tonight from 7pm.