UNIVERSITY bosses are forking out more than £100,000-a-year to keep scaffolding and netting around an "eye-sore" tower block – the Echo can reveal.

But there are still no plans to convert or demolish former student block, South Stoneham Tower, which has been unoccupied for eight years.

Civic chiefs are demanding once more that the University of Southampton take action, describing the 16 storey building as a "blot" on the city.

But university bosses, who last week announced plans to make 75 academic roles redundant, have admitted difficulty in making plans for the 1960s tower block, in Swaythling.

It comes after the area's Conservative councillor, Bob Painton, raised the issue at full council on Wednesday.

The Swaythling ward member, who can see the 180 bedroom tower from his lounge and bedroom window, wants city chiefs to "push for a plan for the site".

He said: "With the council granting new student accommodations all over the city and residents of the city crying out 'enough is enough' as they want affordable housing, will the council officers take the university to task and demand that action taken and some progress is taken either on refurbishing the building?

"This will help release the bulging strain of HMO's that can return to social housing.

"Or are we here to just watch the building disintegrate?"

His comments were met with agreement from all sides of the chamber, with fellow ward member, councillor Sharon Mintoff, of Labour, describing it as "unsightly".

But the Swaythling councillor admitted the university had a difficult job in putting any plans into action.

Councillor Mintoff said that the building would likely contain asbestos and was located next to grade two listed South Stoneham House, making it difficult to demolish.

She said her preference was to see the building returned to student accommodation, in the hope of freeing up affordable homes in the city, which are currently being used as Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Council leader, Simon Letts, told the chamber he had discussed the tower block with the university's vice chancellor, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, on "at least four occasions".

He said: "My impression is that the university wants to deal with this problems as much as we do

"Currently the university is spending £100,000-a-year plus on the scaffolding which is putting a dent in its budget."

The Labour chief added that the council could not force the university to act, but said that he would write to the institution in the hope of pushing for a resolution.

A spokesperson for the university, who sent a representative to the meeting, said: "The university listened to the debate on Wednesday with interest.

"We welcome the recognition of the site’s many complicating factors and the leader’s statement that we are keen to tackle the redevelopment of the site.”

The spokesperson said that the university is continuing to investigate opportunities for the tower, which was last used as student accommodation in 2009.

The university also confirmed that it attempted to market the tower in 2015, but was unsuccessful in its attempts to sell the building.

A History of South Stoneham House:

The 1960s Wessex Lane tower block sits on the site of the historic South Stoneham House, an 18th century grade II listed mansion which has also been left abandoned.

South Stoneham House built by Thomas Dummer of London and the grounds, which originally consisted of 300 acres, cost £3,400.

The house was completed in 1708.

It passed through many different owners during its history, eventually being sold to Sir Samuel Montagu, head of a family of London bankers who was created Lord Swaythling in 1907.

It was sold on his death to Southampton University in 1921.

All servants quarters and stables were demolished in 1961.

Wessex Lane Tower block was built in 1964, standing at 48.7 metres high.

The building was fully occupied until 2005 and partially occupied until 2009.

Its dining room continued to be was used until 2015.

Scaffolding was erected around the building in October 2012 and has remained their ever since.