THE accuracy of a 21st century sundial in Hampshire has been left in the shade - by tower blocks that obstruct the all-important sunshine.

Walkers parading and enjoying the impressive multi-million-pound improvements to Gosport waterfront have noticed the sundial - part of the investment - is incapable of showing the correct time, thanks to its colossal neighbours.

But Gosport council staff who designed the millennium up-grade insist they took the intrusion of the flats - built in the 1970s - into account when locating the sundial.

They were well aware the popular flats would render the sundial useless for about one hour mid-afternoon most days during winter, autumn and spring. The sundial shines during the summer when it is in the sun's glare for most of the time.

Council landscape architect Paul Best explained the sundial was in the best position to symbolise the theme of time and the millennium.

He said: "We haven't been caught out by the sun dial. We knew very well it would lose the sun at some time during the day and told everyone at the design stage.

"The sun is blocked for only a short time most days of the year, except high summer. It's usually only for about one hour in mid to late afternoon, but the time in shadow differs throughout the year.

"We think most people understand the problems of putting a sundial in a modern setting - there's nowhere that would be ideal.''

The £3,000 sundial sits in an area with the theme of time, which cost £350,000. It was built on the geographical line linking Portsmouth Cathedral with Gosport's Holy Trinity Church, symbolising the birth of Christ, from which the modern calendar dates.

The rest of the waterfront features a mosaic telling the history of Gosport in the past 2,000 years. The lights respond to the time of day and the paved area provides an outdoor performance venue.

Gosport Mayor Aleck Hay-ward (pictured) said: "It might not be the ideal place for a sun dial, but it's a compromise for the intended purpose.

"We can't move the tower blocks and wouldn't want to because they are very popular, so it is in that special position to symbolise the link between the waterfront, the new millennium and the birth of Christ.''

No one has complained or pointed out the oddity of a part-time sundial, but perhaps the long rainy season has not given it much of a chance to show its potential - or highlight any shortcomings.