A MULTI-MILLION pound new watersports centre at a Hampshire beauty spot is set to open several months behind schedule.

Eastleigh’s Lakeside Country Park is undergoing a transformation with new facilities costing £3.1 million.

But now the scheme is expected to open at the end of the summer, instead of spring as the council had initially planned.

Fears have been raised that alongside missing out on taking advantage of the high summer trade, this might add to the final cost. Eastleigh Borough Council’s scheme is designed to bring the facilities up to date and attract more people to the lake.

Former storage barns and a small visitors’ centre have been demolished to be replaced by two new buildings twice the size.

The new Lakeside Centre, at the site off Wide Lane, will include improved changing rooms and disabled facilities, a multi-purpose training and conference suite, rentable office space, greater storage and a permanent home for the council’s countryside staff.

Work started last summer to demolish the old buildings and has now begun on fitting out the interior of the new ones. In the meantime lake users, who include canoeists, model boating enthusiasts, and triathletes, have been using temporary accommodation on site.

The borough council’s newsletter in August 2014 reported that the aim was to open the facility in the spring this year. As previously reported, the cost of the scheme has risen by £600,000 since it was first announced, which the council said was down to increased construction prices.

It has already committed £1m million from its New Homes Bonus to the project – money that comes from Government for building social housing – and the remainder is through future income.

Council leader Cllr Keith House has previously said there are no plans to increase charges.

Opposition Conservative leader Cllr Godfrey Olson said delays can often mean increased costs and even with a fixed price contract, that might only be fixed for so long. He said it would take that bit longer to now pay back the money borrowed to pay for it.

“It’s losing the summer time which is the time when the Lakeside is most likely to be used,” he said.

“It’s a shame. It’s one thing to be ambitious but it’s another to be realistic. I’m afraid a number of ambitious schemes haven’t met the timescale that was expected.”

A council spokesman said: “As with any project of this nature, a target date is set at the very start of the process – in this case early in 2014 – and there are a range of factors that might extend a projected build period.”

He said there would be no impact on income regardless of the time because lake users operated as usual from on-site portable cabins.