A PRIME city centre site earmarked for a towering luxury hotel has been sold by receivers to Southampton Solent University.

The proposed 200-bed 22- storey Radisson hotel at East Park Terrace was set to become the city’s tallest building as part of a £110m development bringing 550 jobs.

The council approved plans for the site over three years ago including a 122- unit apartment hotel, and a 14-storey block of 219 flats and 8,500 square metres of offices.

But the developer behind the scheme, Imperial Property (Southampton), collapsed into administration 18 months ago after turning the site into a cheap car park to bring in extra income.

Now Solent University has snapped up the three-acre plot, formerly 1960s offices and an ambulance station, next to its East Park Terrace campus.

Council chiefs are keen to see a landmark building on the site but university bosses have refused to make any commitments.

Before its collapse, Imperial Property had been preparing revised plans for the hotel which would have reached 83 metres thanks to a metal spire, higher than the present tallest building in the city, Millbrook Towers, at 25 storeys and 73m The revised plans featured a sleeker and more elegant design and incorporated a 21st floor cocktail bar with external viewing balconies.

Solent University said a master plan setting out its options for future development would be completed over the next few months.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Van Gore said the acquisition was a “once-in-alifetime”

opportunity to buy land in the heart of the city to expand the existing campus.

“It is early days, yet. This is an important project and will take some time to realise,” he said. “The first thing is to work out logically how to optimise the space across the whole East Park Terrace site, including the existing campus.

Then, in consultation with the city’s planners, we will want to generate a number of specific options, including possible future commercial usage on part of the site.

“No decisions have been made as yet and, as you would expect, our immediate priority is to concentrate on educational use and the benefits to our students, staff and the local community.

“In this context, an early ‘front runner’, is a new academic building and linked sporting facilities, preferably by 2013, if that can be achieved.”

Council leader Royston Smith welcomed the expansion of the university and proposed leisure facilities.

He said: “The city masterplan identifies the northern part of that site as somewhere a landmark building would look good but that’s for the university to decide.”