MOTORISTS have been warned to expect delays as work on a city centre student block reaches its final phase – a month after it was rocked by an explosion and fire.

Osborne, the firm behind the Mayflower Halls development in Southampton, has announced that work will focus on connecting water, gas and electricity suppies and paving around the Commercial Road site ready for its opening ahead of the new term.

It means that Commercial Road will be narrowed and turned into a one-way system while other traffic measures will be put in place.

A one-way traffic loop will be put in place, diverting inbound traffic around to Blechynden Terrace and West Park Road.

Traffic signals at the junction with Havelock Road will be changed to give inbound traffic priority, allowing north, south, and east travel into the city centre.

The work is due to start tomorrow and is likely to last about six weeks, the developers say.

It comes just a month after a huge explosion ripped through the top floor of the development on April 2.

Workers were forced to evacuate the top floor of the halls after it became engulfed in flames and thick smoke. The city centre came to a standstill as hundreds of people watched in shock as the drama unfolded.

Witnesses said that they heard a loud explosion, and the thick smoke could be seen billowing from the building for miles around.

Osborne, which is carrying out the work on behalf of the University of Southampton, confirmed that the fire was caused when a heat gun accidentally set fire to insulating material being installed on the roof.

A council spokesman said: “During busy periods there may be some delays and the council is working closely with the Mayflower Halls developer, Osborne, to minimise these.

“Motorists are asked to take special care and observe the traffic signs.

“This is an important development for Southampton as it means growth for the university, which will also significantly contribute to the city’s growth.

The Mayflower Halls development will also help to reduce the pressure on private housing within Southampton.”