It is the vision for a neglected part of Southampton’s city centre.
A luxury ten-screen cinema, bowling alley and a row of posh restaurants and bars tower over innovative public areas designed to resemble the Hampshire coastline.
The Watermark WestQuay site could be transformed from a derelict wasteland into a thriving leisure complex by the end of 2016, if a last set of plans are approved.
The Daily Echo can exclusively reveal the latest images for the £70m project as developer Hammerson prepares to hand in detailed design plans to the city council.
We can also reveal today some of the names that could be setting up within the new development.
Hammerson and architects ACME have fine-tuned proposals for the public areas to boast innovative water features.
A new piazza will run alongside the medieval city walls, and its design has been inspired by the water pools created by mudflats on the Hampshire coastline.
There will be a water feature that ebbs and flows like the tide, and recedes to create pools of water.
The planned Piazza
What it looks like today
It is hoped that the piazza will be able to host outdoor events.
Towering over it are upper and lower level promenades.
The top level will host a ten-screen luxury cinema and leisure space that could house a bowling alley. Hammerson is currently locked in discussions with potential operators for both venues.
Below them will be a row of up to 20 restaurants and bars.
The developer is talking to a number of operators, and Jamie Oliver’s chain Jamie’s, Mexican market eatery Wahaca and gourmet burger joints Byron and Five Guys are among those that could be opening up.
Bosses at Hammerson say construction could start at the end of the year with the first phase complete by the end of 2016.
It is expected to create 500 construction jobs and the same number of permanent posts once it is open.
It is then expected to be followed by the second phase, which would feature a hotel, a mix of retail and office space, an underground car park and a residential tower block that could be as high as 27 storeys.
The site today
What it is expected to look like
Plans to develop the derelict four-acre site next door to the WestQuay Shopping Centre, which is owned by Hammerson, surfaced more than five years ago but have suffered a series of frustrating delays.
But last year the city council granted outline planning permission for the development, and Hammerson is now set to hand in its final proposals after the Government approved a £7m grant to get the project running.
The application for the first phase will focus on the architectural details, landscaping design and proposed materials.
The developer will have to hand in a detailed planning application for phase two to the council, and if that is approved it is expected to be completed within 18 months of the first phase.
Hammerson’s development manager, Guy Wells, said: “We are hugely excited to be handing in the final plans, particularly after the positive feedback we got from residents.
“The team have worked hard with stakeholders over the past nine months to create a scheme which is unique to Southampton and celebrates the city’s historic walls and its maritime location.”
Council chiefs view the Royal Pier as a major part of the jigsaw to transform the city centre.
Labour council leader Simon Letts says he hopes the new Watermark development will link the city centre and the proposed Royal Pier development on the waterfront.
He said: “It is really exciting to see the next stage of Watermark WestQuay coming forward – with its entertainment complex of a cinema, bars, restaurants and most importantly the high |quality public realm, it is at the forefront of our vision for the city.
“We want to make the area a place that people will want to congregate and spend time in.”