TWO giant student tower blocks set to be built in the heart of city’s business district have been labelled a “disappointment” by the chairman of Southampton Property Association.

Nella Pang, also an associate director at JLL, believes the new 527-bedroom complex planned for Cumberland Place should have been used as prime office space.

Last month, Southampton City Council approved plans to create one 11-storey and one 12-storey block of flats to home students from both of the city’s university’s.

The site upon which it is being built was initially advertised as being a “stunning new office headquarters/office building, comprising of 156,000 sq. ft of office space plus parking” called The Bond.

However, Victoria Hall Management Ltd and Cumberland Commercial Ltd, the owners of the site, shelved that scheme in favour of student housing.

Ms Pang said: “This is a disappointment, especially as none of the space has been allocated for office space.

“Offices in Mayflower Plaza have been handed over to students and now The Bond, in the heart of Southampton’s office district, has been given to students too.

“It would appear that for the owner the residential accommodation’s value outweighs the commercial market.

“The site sandwiches students between Cumberland House which really brings the value down for office space in this area.

“The owner has missed a trick here. Businesses are moving out of Southampton when they want to stay.”

The Echo has contacted the owners for comment but at the time of publication has not received a response.

The plot was previously home to the eight-storey Grosvenor House office building, which stood between five and seven storeys high, which was torn down in 2011.

The plans, submitted by GL Hearn, were rejected in 2016, but have since been accepted.

They will now include four car parking spaces and 269 cycle bays.

Other organisations have come forward to condemn the scheme.

Graham Linecar, secretary of Southampton Commons and Parks Protection Society (SCAPPS), said: “Cumberland Place has always been one of Southampton’s most prestigious addresses; it is an appropriate location for high quality office development.

“It is the wrong place for student accommodation and a waste of a prestige site.”

Ross McNally, executive chair at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “We understand the need for the provision of good student accommodation in the City and therefore broadly welcomes the proposal since it will add to the vibrancy of the area.

“However such developments further underline the urgent need to press ahead with the planning and development of high quality business accommodation as part of the overall City plans.”

The proposals were given the thumbs up by Bargate ward councillor John Noon, who believes such a development could free up housing for local residents and move students from shared accommodation into the block.