A Southampton property developer has called for the ‘gentrification’ of one of the city’s busiest residential areas – and he has been backed by community leaders.

Rob King said he wants Southampton’s “neglected” Polygon area to be returned back to how it was “originally conceived” as part of lavish plans coined in the mid-18th century.

He claimed attracting ‘young professionals and families’ to live in the area, rather than renting scores of homes to students, would lead to investment that would benefit the local community.

Mr King said: “Gentrification sometimes gets a bad press, but the fact is for many neighbourhoods, gentrification represents much-needed investment.

“Local residents welcome the resurrection and revival of neglected areas which haven’t seen much money spent there over many years.

“Economically it’s good for everyone and there are huge benefits to the local community.”

Original plans for the area were designed by architect Jacob Leroux in the 18th Century and involved houses, hotels, assembly rooms and a tavern but production had barely started before one of the investors went bankrupt.

The developer added that there’s a “pent-up demand” for buyers seeking homes in the area.

Local councillors and an MP have expressed support for the concept.

Bargate Councillor John Noon said: “I would welcome investment to bring back family accommodation to the Polygon, which in my view will increase the quality life in the area with a more balance community.”

Fellow ward councillor Sarah Bogle said: “The Polygon was more of a family area prior to the expansion of student and [houses of multiple occupancy] demand. There are some lovely houses which would benefit from investment.”

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith agreed: “The Polygon is ideal for families - large houses in quaint streets within walking distance of Bedford Place and the city centre. If it could be brought back to its former glory people would be queuing up to live there.

"Whilst I wouldn’t suggest displacing students or people who share houses without finding them adequate alternatives, the idea in principle would have my full support.”