A PETITION has been launched calling for Southampton council chiefs to reconsider their £150million redevelopment plans – or prove their proposal will offer the most benefit for the city and its residents.

The appeal for evidence to show alternative options have been explored for the derelict Toys R Us site comes as Southampton City Council (SCC) progressed their major scheme last week.

As reported, members approved external borrowing of £27million towards delivering a new office building on the site in Western Esplanade on Wednesday.

While opposition councillors claimed the investment was a risk, council leader Christopher Hammond said the authority was going to be "bold and ambitious" with plans, which he described as "robust".

However, an e-petition urging the local authority to rethink its approach has been made by resident David Cutler.

The petition, which can be viewed on the council's website, says: "While we recognise the need for the site to be developed, we believe that the announced plans are short sighted and miss a once in a lifetime opportunity for a development that is not just more of the same."

Mr Cutler, a 33-year-old teacher, told the Daily Echo: "Everyone I have spoken to thinks the plans are in some way short sighted.

"We want to be sure that possible alternatives have been explored. If the council has looked at other options and this office plan is the most beneficial for the city that is great.

"However, a lot of people have voiced concerns that this is more of the same. We want to know it has been investigated fully."

Mr Cutler said he had been keen to hear about plans for the site since the toy store closed down last year, however, there had been little information until reports earlier this month outlined the council's vision for a 70,000 sq.ft office building, along with 275 flats, restaurants and shops.

A report to Wednesday's council meeting, which was held behind closed doors for a period, said the proposal for the mix of uses was "consistent with the vision for the city’s central business district and wider Mayflower Quarter".

It listed three rejected alternative options for SCC as do nothing, sell the council's interest or buy out the head-lessee and develop the site itself.

Mr Cutler said residents had offered alternative developments including a leisure centre and ice rink, while he suggested a facility suitable for conferences and events.

He said: "In my career I have gone to Bristol a dozen times for conferences and we do not have a facility that can hold that sort of thing here."