THE end is nigh for the pong that has plagued Southampton for decades.

Prayers of thousands of Southampton residents could soon be answered after a new sewage plant at Woolston moved one step closer.

City planners have backed proposals to redevelop the works in Victoria Road, which date to 1966 and have led to pungent whiffs blighting nearby residents and business-owners.

Southern Water said the plant is at the end of its operation life and pledged the £60m upgrade would tackle the smell by treating waste indoors and using better ventilation.

It will also increase the amount of people covered by the plant from 63,000 to 69,000.

Mark Thompson, head of waste water assets at Southern Water, told a city council planning committee: “Southern Water is confident the scheme to redevelop the site is the best and most appropriate solution. It will substantially reduce odour levels in the area because the scheme has been designed so that the treatment process will take place within covered units.”

Ward councillor Warwick Payne praised the plans and said one of his most common complaints from residents was the pong.

He said: “To give Southern Water credit the firm is not trying to pretend the problem is not there and Woolston requires new sewage works, I think that's very clear.”

Councillors were full of praise for the proposals.

Cllr Paul Lewzey said: “I'm so pleased that this is going to be ratified and I'm so glad we are getting some new kit supplied to make it odour proof.”

Cllr Matthew Claisse added: “I'm delighted this is going through and I think it will make a huge improvement to people living in this area.”

But the proposals now go to the planning and development manager for final approval.

The project will take around four years to complete, starting in spring when temporary works will be built to ensure treatment continues as building progresses.