A SOUTHAMPTON factory could be demolished to make way for more than 170 student flats.

Plans to build a part six-storey and part 13-storey building in Royal Crescent Road have been unveiled.

The site near Central Bridge is currently occupied by a cooking oil processing plant operated by Olleco.

But it could be turned into 173 flats which will provide accommodation for 506 students.

A gym, a roof terrace, outdoor amenity space and cycle storages would also be created at the site.

According to an official document, Olleco is set to move to new premises in Southampton and there will be no job losses.

The plans for the new student accommodation have been put forward by JEDS Investments Ltd and Southampton Student Developments Ltd.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce welcomed the proposals and said to be pleased to see continuing regeneration of the area.

But Ross McNally, executive chair at the Chamber added: "We remain concerned with the continual erosion of office space and employment land in the city. We continue to see businesses leaving the area and this creates additional journey times for employees."

Developers said the site includes "poor quality buildings which are not attractive to the employment market".

They said a market assessment found that even if the buildings were brought up to standard, there would be little or no demand for them in their current use.

"The site is in an area which has largely transitioned from employment uses to residential, including student accommodation.The proposal will complement surrounding residential and student accommodation uses," the developers added.

Sarah Bogle, councillor for Bargate ward, said: "I think that the proposed use of this site is probably the only viable one as the access for commercial use is poor and it is circled by a railway line, the listed central bridge and is in an area with increasing amounts of residential development."

Local councillor John Noon invited residents to have their say on the proposal. Olleco was approached for a comment but was unable to provide one.