THIS is the stunning vision for a £100m new shopping centre for Southampton packed with restaurants, a luxury cinema, a hotel and 200 apartments in a landmark block.

Rising on the former Pirelli factory site next to the historic city walls, the centre - the biggest commercial development in the city for nearly a decade - has been dubbed Watermark WestQuay.

The 12-acre development will create 1,200 jobs, primarily in construction, leisure and retail.

It is the brainchild of property giant Hammerson, the firm behind the original WestQuay Shopping Centre, which has hired the famed Foreign Office Architects to come up with the striking modern design.

Using the city's medieval walls as a backdrop and a focus, the centre is organised around a 3,500 sq m public plaza, complete with water features, designed to host a range of events from farmers' markets to live music and entertainment and even an extension of the Southampton Boat Show.

Ringed around the edge will be a series of "white tablecloth" fine dining restaurants, forming a dining quarter intended to keep the centre busy throughout the day and into the evening.

Shoppers will also be able to enjoy the latest films in a multi-screen cinema.

Hammerson is thought to be in advanced negotiations with a "luxury" cinema brand offering waiter service in the auditoriums.

The company is also understood to be talking to a well-known high street brand to open a large anchor store for the project. It is widely expected to be a big department store chain.

Above the shops will be another hotel for the city, complete with a grass lawn for guests on the roof.

Towering above the whole development will be a block of 200 flats - a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

Hammerson says the project will transform the former industrial site.

A statement said: "Watermark WestQuay will transform the disused site into a thriving mixed-use destination, providing new retail leisure and residential facilities for existing residents and visitors alike."

An exhibition about the project opens at WestQuay today.

Hammerson project director Andrew Hilston said: "The exhibition is open to everybody and we hope that people will take the time to come and see the proposals and share their views."

The city council's Cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Royston Smith, said: "The development will, without doubt, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city and will be a major boost for the economy."

The plans are due to be submitted to the city council later this year.

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