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First images of £330m plans for Southampton's Royal Pier revealed
The designs show how the derelict site would look after a major £330m redevelopment creating thousands of jobs.
But the ambitious plans have split opinion after they were branded "disappointing".
The proposed designs, which council planners stress are a work in progress, show the waterfront area transformed to include a hotel, offices, cafes, bars and a marina.
But despite hopes that the bold new vision could breathe new life into the city, the designs have also been met with criticism.
Members of the public will be able to have their say on the final proposals when it goes through to the full consultation stage at a later date.
The proposals were unveiled by Barbara Compton, head of development, economy and housing renewal at Southampton City Council, in front of the city’s business and culture leaders at the Vision 2020 event this week.
She said: “Our plans will open up two waterfronts – one with the Royal Pier and another at Itchen Riverside.
“The Royal Pier is a bluefield site – water that has been reclaimed.
“The area of Mayflower Park will be expanded so the boat show, which is in the top ten internationally, will really have a premier location to show its wares.
“We will have a hotel, offices with up to 7,000 jobs down there. There will be an inlet of water which will be a perfect place for the boat show and other connectable marine industry to show their wares.
“This is a £330m project that we have been working on with ABP, the Crown and developer Lucent. Things are moving and it has been before the ABP board for approval. Our masterplan is about turning vision into reality. Promoting cities locally and internationally is really important.”
This month the city council formally announced that it wished to acquire part of Mayflower Park with the intention of disposing of it at a later date. Public notices appeared in the Daily Echo inviting readers to respond to the council’s legal department.
Council leader Cllr Simon Lets said that the new design is a “rough schematic” about what the development could look like.
He said: “These things change all the time. This is just one of a series of illustrations that show the approximate look of the development. It does not represent what it will look like because it will change.
“The main developer is Moran Sindall but backed by Lucent. They are confident they have got the funding. I don’t know who they have dealt with but there has been potential interest with the casino licence. These designs have been drawn down from computer aided design to show its potential.”
But opposition leader Cllr Royston Smith said he was disappointed by the new designs.
Cllr Smith said: “This is somewhat disappointing. The original plans were far more dynamic.
“I remember being laughed at for saying Southampton’s waterfront should be aiming to compete with the likes of Sydney.
“This scheme certainly doesn’t do that.
“There is no longer an iconic building at the end of the recreated footprint of the pier and that in my opinion is a missed opportunity. When I was the leader of the council I was very clear.
“This development had to be exceptional or we wouldn’t do it. Once it’s done it’s done. We won’t get another opportunity like this again in generations.”
The iconic pier was opened by Princess Victoria – who was soon to become queen – in 1833 but was devastated by two fires, in 1987 and 1992, and reduced to a tangle of twisted metal and wood.
Charles Forsyth, head of communications at the Lucent Group, said: “The key thing is that the clues are in the name. It’s an artist’s impression.
“Obviously there is no development agreement in place. We have put together some images of what it could look like but it might be different.
“There will be a highly involved process so we can make the development as good as it can be.”
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