A striking vision for a landmark £70m leisure development that promises to bring 500 new jobs to Southampton has been revealed today.
The Daily Echo can today reveal the first stunning pictures of the revised plans for the long-awaited Watermark WestQuay, which will go on show to the public today.
Developers hope to transform the existing patch of barren wasteland next to WestQuay Shopping Centre into a bustling centre filled with 16 restaurants, a luxury cinema and bowling alley, overlooking a tree-lined plaza linking to the city’s historic medieval walls.
They believe their vision provides a “statement” for the important project in the heart of Southampton, with “grand architecture” which will produce a building the city can be proud of.
International property firm Hammerson wants to complete the first phase of its exciting regeneration project, which city leaders hope can kick-start the local economy, within a little more than three years.
A second stage of the project, which would feature a distinctive 24-storey apartment block as well as bringing more jobs through shops and offices or a hotel, could follow two years later.
After 18 months working on the plans with Southampton City Council, the company today launches its public consultation on its proposals with a two-day exhibition, and aims to have a planning application lodged by February.
The outline application will include a single building reaching as tall as the shopping centre, with two rows of posh restaurants stretching down a slope from Portland Terrace.
They would look out over the landscaped square with its feature waterfalls and links through to the Podium car parks.
On the Harbour Parade side, family eateries would be connected to the existing multistorey car park by a new bridge over the road.
Above the food outlets, a floor will be given over to leisure facilities like a bowling alley or “family entertainment centre”, with the 12-screen cinema sitting on top of that, beneath a striking roof.
Hammerson’s development manager Guy Wells said the plans, which have previously included an ice rink, casino and boutique shops on the site, are now based on demand in the city centre, and revealed there have been “very positive” initial discussions with several potential operators.
If the planning stages go to plan, construction on the site could begin in 2014.