SOUTHAMPTON’S historic Bargate area is set to be revived after ambitious multi-million pound redevelopment plans were approved by city planners.

Last night Southampton City Council planning and rights of way committee gave the green light to the project which will bulldoze the failed Bargate Centre, opened in 1989, and replace it with a “terraced garden street” linking the 12th century Bargate monument to Queensway.

The new pedestrianised street would be 15m wide and run parallel to East Street and Hanover Buildings.

It would incorporate a section of the old city walls and has been designed by architects Corstophine and Wright “to imitate the character of the gardens which were historically located along the wall”.

Missing sections of the historic wall south of Polymond Tower would contain seating, lighting columns and artwork.

The new boulevard would also include cafes and kiosks with outside seating.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, councillors signalled their support for the plans.

Planning chair Mike Denness said that although was an “element of risk” in all regeneration schemes, the Bargate Centre has become a “bit of a blot” on the landscape of the city.

He added: “I very much support the opening up the part of town – regeneration is desperately needed and vital.”

Cllr Denness also hailed the project as “good for the area”.

One note of concern was raised by Stephen Barnes-Andrews, who said the council was “seemingly unable to deliver any social housing”.

Mr Barnes-Andrews said there is a “great need” for accommodation in Southampton for people working, and urged the council to revisit the matter because it was “missing opportunities”.

Councillor Les Harris echoed Cllr Barnes-Andrews’ views, adding that the city was “severally lacking” some plots for affordable housing.

He added that aside from that, he supported the scheme.

Councillor Matthew Claisse supported the project’s potential impact on tourism, adding that the scheme would link the Bargate area to its historic walls.

Cllr Claisse also said the development was a “huge improvement” on the existing site, and he supported it because it was “fundamentally ambitious” and “good for the city”.

The plans were put forward by Tellon Capital, the company which owns Bargate Property Ltd, and architects Corstophine and Wright.

During the meeting, James Burchell, partner at Tellon Capital, said the plans would help “rebalance the city” around the Bargate quarter.

The Bargate itself would become the central point of a cross running east west from Debenhams to Westquay and north south from Above Bar to the QE2 Mile.

Mr Burchell said the project would see the area transformed into a “thriving environment” with a mix of retail, residential, student and leisure, adding: “This is a place where people will want to be, where they will be excited to spend time, a place where people want to explore past, present and future.”

Mr Burchell said he anticipated that 700 jobs would be created during construction and more than 280 jobs once the scheme is completed.

He also predicted the scheme would bring an extra an additional local expenditure of more than £5 million per year.

“We are hoping that many of the jobs will be filled by local contractors while we are developing,” he said. “This will create local jobs whilst creating an environment where people will want to come and spend time.

“We want to be proud of what we have achieved, we want to make Southampton proud and to ensure that we create a place where people will want to be today and tomorrow whilst enjoying the heritage of yesterday.”

Speaking after the council’s decision, Mr Burchell said: “This decision is an important step in regenerating this area of Southampton.

“The Bargate Quarter is going to rejuvenate an area fundamental to the history of the city and transform this space into a vibrant new neighbourhood.

“We are delighted that the time spent in ensuring the plans reflect the aspirations of Historic England, the local community and the council itself has been recognised and we are grateful for this support. We are now looking forward to delivering this vision.”

Mr Burchell had previously said that work on the new scheme would start in the summer of 2017 and would take two years to complete.

Simon Reynier, representing the City of Southampton Society which preserves and protects the built heritage of the city, said that while the group welcomed the application, it still reserved concerns, particularly about financial viability of the scheme.

“Should the development not be completed or achieve full occupation, the area could deteriorate to the detriment of the city,” said Mr Reynier.

He also said the society harboured concerns that if full occupation was not obtained, the area could “deteriorate quite rapidly”.

Fact files What the development will include:

• 152 private flats (63 x one bedroom and 89 x two bedroom)

• 80,000 square feet of shops with five commerical kiosks

• Accomodation for 451 students

• New buildings ranging in height from four storeys to nine storeys

• 147 parking spaces (110 retail, 37 residential, 0 student parking)

What will be demolished

• Bargate Shopping Centre and multi-storey car park

• 77-101 Queensway

• 25 East Street

• 30-32 Hanover Buildings

• 1-16 East Bargate

• 1-4 High Street (excluding frontage)