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What the future holds for Southampton

PUBLISHED: 16:11 23 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:11 23 September 2014

West Quay. Credit - ACME

West Quay. Credit - ACME


The city of Southampton is changing – tower cranes punctuate the sky and the traffic cones seem to be multiplying. So what is happening? What does the future of the city look like? We sent Graham Price to find out...

It’s a good time to be a Sotonian – the recent joint City Deal signed with Portsmouth promises to bring over £950m to the two Solent cities, creating 17,000 jobs in the process. At the same time, more ‘pots’ of government funding are helping local businesses and civic leaders to bring forward projects to cement Southampton’s status as the jewel of the south coast.

In 2012 Southampton City Council commissioned a Master Plan – a vision for the City that would tackle some of the issues holding Southampton back from realising its full potential, and helping to guide investment into the maritime city.

The benefits the Master Plan aims to bring to the city are huge. It hopes to attract three billion pounds worth of investment to Southampton by 2030; of which £1.5bn is committed, in the pipeline or underway.

5,000 new homes are planned by 2030, with 2,500 homes already either being built or with planning consent; and up to 7,000 jobs will be created by 2026. The recently approved Watermark WestQuay will create 500 long term jobs following completion of its first phase in 2016, with 600 construction jobs during its build.

Dawn Baxendale, Chief Executive of Southampton City Council explains more: “Our 2012 City Centre Master Plan is our vision for the city. It’s not just a dream, it’s an expectation and one that is already coming to fruition in the two years since the master plan was launched. We are thinking big. We know the potential of our city and have identified some clear goals to help us to improve its future; through development, investment and job creation. We have seven identified VIP projects which are the catalyst for economic development in Southampton; some have already yielded results. Southampton is cementing its position as the economic powerhouse on the south coast, a city of opportunity and envy worldwide.”

This ambitious plan focuses on seven “Very Important Projects” over the next 15 years and work is already well underway on many of them. Here we explain how each phase will be transformed...

1. The Cultural Quarter

Southampton’s thriving Cultural Quarter is being enhanced with the addition of a new arts complex, incorporating a modern art gallery (John Hansard Gallery), a media and film facility (City Eye), and a brand new performing arts facility including two auditoria, education spaces and a dance studio. Part funded by a £7.3m Arts Council England Lottery Grant, the new complex sits alongside Guildhall Square, overlooking the City’s parks. The Cultural Quarter development will also bring new retail and residential units to the city centre.

Susan Beckett, Executive Director of City Eye said: “It has been fantastic to see Southampton’s Cultural Quarter develop over recent years, spearheading the wider cultural regeneration of the City. Already a number of culturally focused businesses have chosen to locate here alongside the rich collection of arts 
already on offer. The stunning new arts complex, scheduled to open in 2016, will complete the fourth side of Guildhall Square at the heart of the Cultural Quarter; and through its diverse programme of events and activities, will offer visitors to the City, those working here and residents the best in live performance, film and art.

New jobs will be created for those seeking to work in the arts but also in catering, administration, technical and customer service.

City Eye, which will continue its work to develop film and digital media culture through a programme of education, production and screenings, (including the annual Southampton Film Week) eagerly anticipates the arrival of the new complex.

2. Fruit and Vegetable Market

The Fruit and Vegetable Market project links the main shopping areas with Ocean Village (via the Old Town and Oxford Street), with new homes, retail spaces and business frontages. Raglan Housing Association, in partnership with the City Council, has already started work on 44 new affordable homes on Queensway. Jonathan Layzell, Assistant Director of Business Development for Raglan Housing said: “These are much-needed homes, which will not only help meet the shortage of affordable housing for local people in the city centre, but create a thriving community which will play a vital role in the regeneration of Southampton’s old town. We also hope that our shared ownership homes will give first time buyers and families, who are unable to afford the high property prices in the city, an opportunity to get their foot on the property ladder and own a home of their own in an ideal central location.”

3. Heart of the City

The Heart of the City project is a collection of development opportunities in the centre of Southampton. Work has already started on a brand new 60,000 sq ft Morrisons supermarket on the former East Street shopping centre site, bringing 400 new jobs to the city. The scheme is expected to be fully completed by early 2015. West Quay owners Hammersons have recently had detailed plans approved to build “Watermark”, a leisure-led £70m development which will bring a continental influence to the City. Due to open in Autumn 2016, the scheme will include a 10 screen cinema, an array of restaurants and a brand new public piazza. Guy Wells, Hammerson Development Manager said: “This site offers a unique opportunity to deliver an exceptional leisure and dining destination for Southampton. We have been encouraged with the level of support we have received on the scheme from stakeholders, and we have worked hard with the council to create a scheme which is already generating strong interest from potential occupiers.”

4. Itchen Riverside

The old industrial land around Town Depot and the Itchen Riverside is undergoing a renaissance to fulfil the potential of this prime waterside location. Work is already well underway to create the tallest building in Southampton – a 26 story residential block as part of the £74m Admirals’ Quay at Ocean Village.

Woolston Riverside is being transformed by a partnership of HCA, Southampton City Council, Radian, Spectrum Housing Group and Crest Nicholson to bring mixed residential units to the area, including 25% affordable homes. Innovation in energy efficiency is at the heart of the project, as homes are supplied with heat and hot water from purpose-built ‘district’ energy centres on site. A new hub for the marine industry, creating 1,000 specialist jobs completes the development.

5. Royal Pier

Royal Pier is a huge £400m project to transform Southampton waterfront. Mayflower Park will be recreated and extended, offering a fantastic public space with knock-out views across the Solent. Speciality shops, leisure venues, apartments and offices will also be dotted along the shoreline, linked by pedestrian promenades and piers.

The development is now one step closer after all partners signed the Development Agreement in March this year, and the next stage will involve public consultation and submission of a planning application.

The site, owned by Southampton City Council, the Crown Estate and Associated British Ports (ABP), will also provide a permanent and first class home for the prestigious Southampton Boat Show.

6. Solent University

Southampton enjoys all the benefits of being a university city, with a thriving student population and talented graduates who push innovation in a wide range of fields. Southampton Solent University is expanding to cater for a growing student body with the addition of a brand new teaching, exhibition and conference facility on East Park Terrace.

Once completed, the new £30million building will include dedicated teaching and learning spaces, as well as new conference facilities and exhibition space that will also be available to local business and community groups.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Wilkinson says: “This stunning new building - with its state of the art lecture and seminar facilities, together with 
social and flexible space for conferences, exhibitions and events- is great news for students, staff and the city as a whole. 
It will symbolise what a modern and dynamic place Southampton Solent University is.”

This is the first step in a proposed transformation of the whole East Park Terrace campus, which Solent hope will eventually include a new sports science complex and improved facilities for students, staff and visitors including a landscaped plaza.

7. Station Quarter

More than five million trips are made each year through Southampton’s Central Train Station – making it the first place that many visitors to the city will see. With this is mind, a major revamp is underway to ensure Southampton’s Station Quarter can hold its own and represent the fresh facelift that the city is undergoing.

Better transport interchanges, improved way-finding and new public and retail spaces are all in the plans; alongside wider footways and pedestrian crossings and clear cycling routes.

The southern side of the station will 
be redeveloped and a central business district will be created around a public square – bringing great economic benefits to the city.


The vision

The city centre is the power house for the city and beyond - generating economic growth and new jobs within a low carbon environment. By 2026 new offices, shops, homes, cultural attractions and entertainment venues will be found across the city centre, notably in a new Royal Pier waterfront scheme, a Business District right next to the Central Station and in the upgraded and expanded shopping area. A variety of new residential areas will add to the appeal of city centre living. Distinctive new buildings, public spaces and walking routes will reconnect different parts of the city centre including its waterfronts, Victorian parks, medieval Old Town and Central Station and transform the whole city centre into a more attractive, walkable place with a buzz about it – a great place to do business, visit and live.”


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