IT’S supposed to be a multi-million pound landmark development that was hoped to breathe new life into a Southampton community.

The 15-storey City Gateway scheme will provide community facilities and student flats in Swaythling.

But traders opposite fear their businesses have been hit hard by the ongoing work.

Business owners in Market Buildings, in Stoneham Lane, say the work on the City Gateway development is driving away customers.

And they fear the lack of current parking spaces in the area, and once the work is over, will keep people away.

The concerns were raised at a public meeting between traders, and representatives from developers Bouygues and Southampton City Council.

Construction workers have been using sections of the parking spaces usually reserved for Market Buildings staff and customers during the work as part of the planning agreement.

But shopkeepers stressed it is leaving their staff and customers with nowhere to park.

The area around Market Buildings is also being improved as part of the development’s 106 agreement, but traders say the large cage fencing around the perimeter gives passers-by the impression the businesses are closed.

Once work is complete, the 15-storey City Gateway will include student flats, a community medical centre and a pharmacy.

Mike Purkiss, who runs Gear of Honour tattoo and gun shop on Stoneham Lane, told the meeting: “Potentially there is going to be just under 500 new people in this area. If only 50 of them brought cars it would fill the whole area up.

“Nothing is benefiting businesses and the local people.

“I cannot go on much longer the way things are going. It’s almost killed my business.”

Martin Symes, who runs Swaythling Car Accessories, said: “It is starting to really cost us money.

“I have had people phoning me that couldn’t get in to park.”

Vanessa White, from Southampton City Council’s highways department, said the authority would look into the possibility of making the north side of Market Buildings available only for staff and customers to use while the construction work is carried out.

Bouygues development statement:

A spokesman from Bougyes Development said: "We are pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with local stakeholders and discuss the City Gateway project.

"As part of our ongoing programme of community engagement activities on the scheme, we will be holding monthly consultation meetings between Southampton City COuncil, local residents and shopkeepers.

"In addition, our construction team will also provide weekly briefings to the shopkeepers to inform them of the progress of the works and planned activities in the week ahead."

The firm also confirmed more pakring spaces will be provided to businesses than anticipated.

They added: "We remain committed to engaging with our stakeholders and minimising the impact of the works on local businesses."