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City becomes crane capital of the South
IN RECENT years, the picture in Southampton has been one of austerity and cutbacks.
The city council, which has made £16million of cuts this year and is looking at having to slash £40million off its budget for the next two years, has not been alone in battling against the economic downturn.
But against that backdrop, the enormous construction cranes looming over Southampton are testament to the belief that a number of key developments will give the city’s economy a much-needed shot in the arm.
With developments ranging from housing sites bringing thousands of new homes to the city, to supermarkets, office developments and, finally, the long-awaited arts complex, Southampton is a city that is likely to look very different in five years’ time to what it does today.
The city council estimates that the 22 projects which have begun work are likely to create a jobs boom for the city over the next few years.
As well as the 3,440 construction jobs which they are forecast to create, the developments are likely to result in more than 1,700 new jobs being created on their completion.
Centenary Quay is perhaps regarded as the jewel in the crown of the residential developments shooting up across the city.
The £500million riverside development at the former Vosper Thornycroft shipyard will transform a significant section of the River Itchen’s eastern bank.
The second phase of the development, which is currently under way, will comprise 329 new homes, shops, cafes, restaurants and a new Morrisons supermarket.
A new, £116million Centre of Excellence at the University of Southampton’s Boldrewood campus will eventually provide at least 856 jobs, thanks to an agreement between the university and marine giant Lloyd’s Register, which will relocate its research experts there.
Housing developments include Admirals Quay in Ocean Village, which will feature Southampton’s tallest building, a 26-storey residential block, and a £400million project to transform the former home of mapping agency Ordnance Survey in Romsey Road.
Southampton’s students will also have two new developments to choose between soon – the £70million village at Mayflower Plaza in the heart of the city, and the 15-storey City Gateway tower block in Swaythling.
And they will be joined by a huge, 20-storey block in St Mary’s Road which was approved by the city council’s planning panel earlier this year.
Construction work will begin on the £21million arts complex in Above Bar in the autumn, while planning permission has now been granted for the creation of Watermark WestQuay, which will transform a derelict site next to the WestQuay Shopping Centre into a luxury cinema, restaurants and retail as well as a new plaza.
The second phase of that project, which is due to start after the first phase is completed, could also deliver a 27-storey residential tower which would pip Admirals Quay to the title of Southampton’s tallest building.
And then of course there is the biggest one of them all – the £450million, “world class”
vision for the Royal Pier site which city chiefs hope will make Southampton one of Europe’s top waterfront cities.
Although there is currently no movement on the project, which would see a luxury hotel, a marina, restaurants, offices and a supercasino, discussions are ongoing to ensure that they eventually come to fruition, rather than being kicked into the long grass.
Council chiefs estimate that the Royal Pier development could provide one of the city’s biggest ever job booms, with 6,900 posts being created.
City council leader Simon Letts said: “It’s great to see over 3,500 people employed on construction sites in the city at the moment and with major developments like the new arts centre and WestQuay Watermark due to start over the next few months this number will only grow.”
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