WORK to demolish a landmark building in Southampton could begin as early as tomorrow, it has been claimed by a senior civic figure.

Cllr Sarah Bogle has said that the demolition of the Solent Flour Mills is set to start on July 15.

Associated British Ports (ABP) neither confirmed nor denied the claims, but said the demolition of the building will start “shortly”.

Campaigners said its loss would be “a tragedy” for the city.

But port bosses said the space “is needed” to preserve and grow employment in Southampton.

The news comes as more than 1,000 people signed a petition to save the site.

Cllr Bogle, heritage champion at Southampton City Council, had previously called on ABP to work with civic chiefs and residents to find an alternative.

She said: “Confirmation has come through that demolition is due to start on 15/07/20 after COVID19 put the original start date of 23/03/20 back, giving the building a temporary reprieve. It’s a sad day that a building that could be Southampton’s answer to the Baltic, Tate Modern or Battersea Power station will no longer be with us. I am deeply disappointed this is going ahead and am grateful for all the support from many individuals and organisations, especially Save Britain’s Heritage, in trying to save this historic building. We will continue to press for a change of heart.”

Freemantle councillor Dave Shields said to be disappointed that no alternatives were found.

He added: “I’m deeply saddened by this loss to our rich industrial heritage. I hope that ABP makes good use of the site.”

Talking about the mills, campaigner Kate Baker added: “It is one of the best examples of Sir Alfred Gelder’s architectural practice Gelder and Kitchen. Sir Alfred was my great-grandfather. There are very few well-designed buildings of that period in the 1920’s that survived the devastation of the second world war in Southampton. This is a prime example. Southampton’s architectural heritage is an extremely important part of our city’s identity and we cannot afford to lose any of the few remaining high quality buildings left.This will be a tragedy for Southampton.”

ABP did not confirm a start date for the demolition work but in a statement it said: “We will shortly be commencing demolition of the old mill, which we envisage will take around nine months to complete.

"We have engaged demolition contractors for the site, but work has not yet begun. We have commissioned heritage experts to create a comprehensive record of the building in its current form, which we will share with the city council and local museum. Over the past year, we have consulted with a number of people and organisations to identify alternative uses for the site but unfortunately no financially viable proposals were put forward.”

As reported, Hovis ceased milling operations at the site in 2018.