THE ruins of Netley Abbey could reopen to the public on Saturday.

This comes after English Heritage decided to close the ruined Cistercian monastery on Monday after scaffolding set up in the nave for conservation work was found to “fall far short” of expected standards.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “We were alarmed to see the way the scaffolding was left by the contractor. We are taking immediate steps to ensure that it is rectified. In the meantime the site has been closed as a precaution.”

The charity, which owns the site, has refused to reveal the name of the contractor but said it was hoping to reopen the ruins to the public on Saturday.

The abbey is undergoing a major conservation project to remove overgrown vegetation from the walls and repoint open mortar joints. The project also includes the repair of three arches at the entrance to the chapter house from the cloisters.

A spokeswoman for the charity added: “These arches were built with Caen stone, a particularly soft stone which is vulnerable to water damage. To address this our experts are using a highly specialist conservation technique, using nanolime to protect the arches. Work is due to be completed by the Autumn 2018.”

David Airey, borough councillor for Netley Abbey ward, said youngsters were seen climbing up the wall before scaffolding was put in place.

And added: “Some repair work had to be done in there but whether the youngsters would have been climbing up the scaffolding I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a shame it has been closed. But safety must come first. If English Heritage can keep to their time table and open it by Saturday it’s good, so people can enjoy it at the weekend.”

Residents were frustrated by the closure. Laura Marszall, 36, a student, from Netley Abbey, said: “The abbey is a key part of the village and is very important to the local community. Not only it is an iconic part of the village’s heritage, but it is a well used recreational area that is free to enter and accessible for all.”

Eastleigh MP Mims Davies said: “I understand from the brilliant team at English Heritage that the planned works are key to ensuring that future generations will also be able to enjoy the remains of this rare piece of our history for centuries to come.

"In order to ensure that visitors to the site are safe during these works, I appreciate that the decision has been taken to close the site to visitors until the works have been reassessed, although I welcome that English Heritage are hopeful that it can reopen again on Saturday.”