PLANS to transform Southampton's former Meridian television site into a thriving complex of flats and homes have been revealed.

Residents got their first glimpse of the £40million proposals to overhaul the derelict site at an exhibition in the city.

Developer Inland Homes PLC wants to build up to 350 homes and a convenience store on the seven-acre riverside site.

And the firm also wants to create a new park and a riverside walkway that will open the Itchen waterfront up to thousands of city residents.

ITV contractors Southern, TVS and finally Meridian were all based at the site for decades.

But 2008 saw the end of broadcasting at the site after a £4.5billion merger between Meridian's owners Granada and Carlton, and the subsequent decision to close the site.

Since then the site has been a rubble-strewn eyesore, and two previous schemes have been proposed but never got past the drawing board.

First Oakdene Homes wanted to build a £100million complex with 500 apartments, commercial space and a 27-storey tower.

And then, after Oakdene went into administration in 2009, the Royal Bank of Scotland's commercial property wing West Register proposed another plan for 250 homes, but it never saw the light of day.

But Inland Homes believes its blueprint for the Meridian Gardens development can come to fruition in the next two or three years.

It would contain 356 properties, divided between 30 three-bed, 156 two-bed and 150 one-bed homes, including some affordable properties and in buildings of up to 13 storeys in height.

A new park would be created, which would open onto a riverside walkway along the River Itchen's western bank, and the site would also contain a convenience store.

And there will also be flood protection measures built along the banks of the Itchen, while the nearby Union Road junction will be improved.

The firm will return with more detailed plans later in the year, and expects to hand in a planning application by the autumn.

If planning permission is granted by the end of the year, then work will begin on site next summer.

Paul Brett, land director at Inland Homes, said: “We have been delighted by the positive response of the community to our proposals.

“The site has been a neglected eyesore for too many years.

“Inland Homes will build high-quality new homes, opening up the river walk and creating a new park to transform this neglected but prominent site.”