DEVELOPERS behind a £70m transformation of wasteland in Southampton city centre say they have received overwhelming public support for their plans.

More than nine out of ten people who gave their views as part of an official consultation on the scheme to overhaul barren land next to WestQuay Shopping Centre said they believe it will benefit the city.

As revealed by the Daily Echo, international property giant Hammerson wants to build a flagship new restaurant, leisure and luxury cinema complex as part of its scheme, dubbed Watermark WestQuay.

It is hoped the striking first phase of the development will be open within a little over three years, bringing 500 much-needed jobs to Southampton and a timely economic boost to the city.

Almost 1,000 people attended a two-day exhibition showing off the plans for Watermark earlier last month, with many giving their feedback on the scheme.

Hammerson has promised to take public views into consideration before lodging its first planning application in February.

More than 160 people completed feedback forms to give their thoughts about the proposals.

Of those who responded, 91 per cent said they believed Southampton city centre would benefit from the regeneration of the site and eight out of ten said they were in favour of the revised proposals.

Hammerson’s project director, Guy Wells said: “We were really pleased to have so many visitors and we were delighted with the level of support we received. The creation of new open space was particularly popular and people are keen that the site is brought into use.

“The team will now give the feedback we have received, on a wide range of issues, very careful consideration before we submit a planning application next year. We will continue to work hard to create an outstanding scheme that will benefit the whole of Southampton.”

The Watermark plans would see a landmark building housing a mixture of 16 “aspirational” and family eateries below an entertainment hub, next to an open plaza linking the new restaurants to the historic medieval walls.

Hammerson also wants to add a giant 24-storey residential tower overlooking the waterfront as well as a hotel or offices and shops in a second phase of the project, which could see the redundant section of the former Pirelli site completely transformed into a bustling centre within six years.

Over 500 votes were cast in a Daily Echo poll about the plans, with 82 per cent giving the proposals a favourable reaction.