WINCHESTER council leader has told colleagues that a £5 million grant has been lost following a legal challenge from preservation watchdogs over the Station Approach scheme.

The City of Winchester Trust has launched legal action over the city council approval of the planning application for the £150m scheme to develop offices by the railway station.

A £5m grant was earmarked for the scheme from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cllr Lucille Thompson told the Council meeting: "As Council is aware this money has to be spent by March 31 2021 and our officer team has been in close dialogue with the M3 LEP over the past week.

"The (legal) challenge has meant we have had to inform the LEP that we can no longer guarantee to meet this spending deadline. We remain committed to supporting the economy of our beautiful city but will have to do without the benefit of £5 million of external funding."

She also revealed that council officers have stopped marketing the site to potential developers until the legal position is clear.

The trust alleges the council failed to assess the impact of the scheme on the local heritage assets.

Of the £5m, £1m was earmarked for archaeological works and £4m for improving the public realm as a gateway to the city.