IT’S been dubbed as an iconic landmark for Southampton.

Towering 15 storeys high, the aim was to provide hundreds of new student rooms as well as a medical centre for the community, but repeated attempts to get the scheme off the ground failed and caused controversy, with hundreds of local residents claiming that they had not been consulted.

But finally, after years of wrangling, work is finally under way on the Southampton City Gateway project that is set to transform part of Swaythling after a deal was struck with developers.

The agreement was signed by Bouygues Development and will see the design and build phase carried out by Warings Contractors, a Portsmouth-based firm.

The company has strong links with the area, having carried out the extension work at Eastleigh’s Swan Centre, redeveloped Bournemouth Airport and also worked on the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth.

The towerblock will be one of the city’s newest and most distinctive buildings, housing 364 student rooms for the University of Southampton, as well as a new medical centre for the Stoneham Lane Surgery, pharmacy and four retail units.

Work has already begun on the site, which has lain empty for years at the junction of Stoneham Way and Thomas Lewis Way, and is expected to be completed in 2014.

As part of the planning contract, nearby Parkville Road will be resurfaced, while work will also be carried out to improve the Market Buildings car park.

Philippe Jouy, Warings managing director, said: “Warings is proud to be delivering yet another of the region’s most high profile projects.

“This development promises huge benefits for the community and fantastic quality accommodation for the students, as well as a truly impressive new gateway to the city.”

The company has also signed a contract to build the Admiral’s Quay development at Ocean Village, one of the tallest towers in the south of England.

Bouygues, a French construction giant, was brought in to bail out the project by health firm Care Capital after the plans for the flagship project stalled as a result of the housing market crash and the effects of the credit crunch two years ago.