GREY and run-down, it has been a seven-storey-tall eyesore in a Southampton community for decades.

But now the building once described by planning inspectors as exuding a "forbidding ambience" is set for a multi-million-pound state-of-the-art revamp.

The area where the derelict offices of Antelope Park in Thornhill now stands is to be transformed into a £25m complex - possibly featuring shops, a bingo hall, a health care centre and food outlets - within two years.

The Bursledon Road development is set to be a huge boost for the area, with more than 400 jobs created within the complex.

Previously the nine-acre site had been home to builders' merchant Jewson's regional headquarters.

As part of the development, headed up by specialist brownfield regenerator Rokeby (Southern) Ltd and designed by Fareham-based HGP Architects, the company is set to relocate to a new building at the rear of the site.

Bingo giants Gala and home and garden retailer The Range have both expressed an interest in using the new development.

Peter Hunt, deputy director of community programme Thornhill Plus You, said the development would be a boost for the area.

He said: "From a regeneration perspective the development of Antelope Park will be very welcome.

"It will take what are redundant buildings and transform them into economically active ones.

"The most important part of the development is the number of jobs it will bring - 400 will be created, with 200 being set aside for people from the Thornhill area.

"It is a tremendous opportunity to create a positive feature for the people of Thornhill."

Mr Hunt added that the current building, largely regarded as an eyesore, would not be missed.

"Everyone will be glad to see the back of the current building at Antelope Park," he said.

"I don't think there is anyone who thinks it adds to the area.

"Anything that is run-down and disused doesn't stand in good stead when looking at a community.

"This development will improve the looks of the area - and that has to be a huge benefit for Thornhill."

Demolition of the former Jewson site has already started, and the whole project, funded by Moorley Pooled Pensions, is expected to be completed within two years.