WORK has begun on a £23.5m, 15-storey tower in Southampton.

Designers of the Southampton City Gateway in Swaythling say it will become one of Southampton’s most distinctive landmarks.

Yesterday work began on the ambitious project, which will provide 364 rooms for University of Southampton students, plus a community medical centre and a pharmacy.

The site’s developers hope to finish construction work next summer, in time for the university students to move into the building at the start of the next academic year.

Two previous schemes for the site in Parkville Road failed before French construction firm Bouygues took on the project in 2009.

After the scheme was held up for several years by a variety of different issues, such as car parking capacity and consultation among the neighbouring community, city council chiefs finally approved the scheme last year.

The student accommodation will be within the elliptical tower block and two six-storey wings, while on the ground floor the medical centre will be occupied by the Stoneham Lane Surgery.

As well as the medical centre and a Lloyds Pharmacy at ground floor level, there will also be four retail units, one of which is likely to be occupied by a convenience store.

Other work will include surface car parking for 32 vehicles, resurfacing works on Parkville Road and an upgrade for the nearby Market Buildings car park.

Construction work will be carried out by Portsmouth company Warings, which is owned by Bouygues.

Warings was responsible for the 17-storey Duke Street student accommodation and the Southampton Airport terminal, and is currently building the 26-storey tower in Ocean Village, which will become the tallest building in the city when work is completed next summer.