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BUSINESS leaders gathered at the home of Hampshire cricket to hear about the £3 billion plan to regenerate Southampton.

Southampton-based commercial real estate and investments giant CBRE held its annual briefing event at the Ageas Bowl yesterday.

Southampton City Council’s director of place, Stuart Love, was the guest speaker and he gave assembled business figures an update on the city’s masterplan.

Mr Love, who is in charge of economic development, planning and the environment at the council, said the major plans could eventually see £3 billion of investment poured into the city, and 7,000 jobs created in the next eight years.

Among the sites he highlighted were the £450m Royal Pier development, which could eventually see Southampton’s waterfront transformed into a complex featuring a super-casino, bars, restaurants, homes and a new Mayflower Park.

A planning application is likely to be handed in early next year.

He also spoke about the Watermark WestQuay development, which was given planning permission last year, and features a luxury cinema, leisure and retail outlets, bars and restaurants.

Other key areas of the masterplan coming to fruition in the coming years include the £40m arts complex, bars, restaurants and flats complex in Guildhall Square, which is midway through construction and expected to open in early 2016.

He also said work to build the high-end Harbour Hotel at Ocean Village will begin later this year, that 44 homes, retail and food outlets at the former Fruit and Vegetable Market site will be completed later this year, and that work has recently begun on a £30m teaching hub at Southampton Solent University.

He said: “Two years ago, Southampton City Council laid out its vision for the city in its city centre masterplan. This vision included £3 billion of investment by 2030, and 7,000 jobs by 2026.

“This vision is becoming a reality, with £1.5 billion in investment already committed.

“Southampton presently has around 50 restaurant, café and bar occupier opportunities in a variety of sites across the city, including those within the city centre Cultural Quarter, the city’s newly approved leisure hub at Watermark WestQuay, and many sites overlooking the waterfront, with many already let or under offer.

“Our city sees more than 400 cruise ships visit over the course of a year, and with two excellent universities, a population of nearly quarter of a million, and with 3.5 million people living within an hour’s drive, the footfall and opportunities for occupiers are excellent.”