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PLANNERS last night backed three major waterfront developments that are set to change the face of Southampton’s waterfront.

A massive £70million leisure complex, a 130ft monument to an iconic aircraft and a state-of-the-art new dockside research centre for cutting edge underwater robots were all passed by councillors.

First to receive their blessing was the giant statue in Mayflower Park celebrating the Spitfire aircraft which was developed and manufactured in the city and was crucial in protecting the nation during the Second World War.

Now the team behind it have to raise £3.5million before building work can begin. They say it could be completed within two and a half years.

Then the final hurdle for one of the city’s biggest projects in living memory was overcome after developer Hammerson was given the all clear to push ahead for its Watermark complex.

Daily Echo:

An artist's impression of how Hammerson's Watermark development will look.

The development on derelict land next to the WestQuay shopping centre is set to create 500 construction jobs, along with a further 500 permanent positions when the development opens.

It is centred on a luxury ten-screen cinema and a bowling alley.

There will also be a row of posh eateries – possibly including national names such as Jamie Oliver’s chain Jamie’s, Mexican chain Wahaca and gourmet burger joints Byron and Five Guys – and bars.

Daily Echo: Spitfire memorial.JPG

The leisure elements will tower over a new piazza running alongside the city’s medieval walls and water features designed to ebb and flow like the tide.

Finally The National Oceanography Centre’s plans for a new innovation centre in European Way, which is part of the University of Southampton, were passed.

It will be used to build a fleet of 40 Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems (MARS), similar to the underwater craft currently being used to search for the missing MH370 aircraft in the Indian Ocean.