CITY council bosses have given the green light to invest £1.5 million in a new creative business base – at a Southampton shopping centre.

The “exciting” open-plan site, which will include a shared-space, reception, and meeting rooms, will be taking over the top floor of the Marlands.

Named “Network”, it is set to open at the start of 2019.

The authority says it will now look to appoint a management company to oversea operations at the base.

It adds that the firm will help grow businesses that use the space, alongside facilitating access to funding, technology and business networks.

Additional funding is also to come from Ellandi, the firm that manages the Marlands.

The company will invest in a dedicated entrance from Portland Terrace, installing new lifts and replacing windows to the 12,500 sq ft second floor space.

Council leader Chris Hammond said: “There is so much to be proud of in Southampton and I am really excited about the contribution that Network will make towards unlocking the entrepreneurial talent in the city.

“It will support and retain local talent and attract entrepreneurs to Southampton, which will benefit everyone.”

“Through investment and regeneration, the council is providing conveniently located, modern and affordable space in the heart of the city.

“Network will offer competitively priced, flexible membership and facilities that are tailored to the needs of creative, digital and knowledge based businesses. Ensuring that we are defining the future economy.”

A council spokesperson said the authority looked at other locations, but the Marland’s space “proved to be the best opportunity in the city centre”.

They added: “We were able to secure this high profile space a cost that makes the refurbishment and operational costs financial viable and great value for money.”

Ellandi asset management director Jonathan Robson said: “Ellandi is delighted to be working closely with Southampton City Council to deliver this creative co-working space at the Marlands.

“Our partnership is delivering an innovative concept that is a leading example of re-purposing retail accommodation.

"Its location is perfectly placed in the heart of the city centre to take advantage of public transport services, the range of nearby restaurants, bars and retail outlets, the new Cultural Quarter and the residential offer that is developing in the city centre.

“It’s great to see Southampton and Ellandi leading the way with what is becoming a national shift in the composition of our city centres.”