AFTER months of uncertainty a new £7 million hotel will finally be built in the centre of Southampton.

Regeneration cash totalling £250,000 has been granted to enable Whitbread to build a Travel Inn on the site of the Clifford House office block at Six Dials.

Work on the hotel, which is expected to create up to 100 new jobs for local people, is expected to start at the end of this month and it should be completed and ready for business from Autumn 2001.

Both Southampton City Council and Whitbread were exasperated by the months of delay imposed on the project, while they waited for the go-ahead to back the project with regeneration funds.

The size of the grant meant it had to be rubber stamped by SEEDA - the South East Economic Development Agency.

But both sides were today delighted that the major development can finally go ahead. Dominic Johnson Allen of Whitbread said: "We are really pleased that we have eventually received a regeneration grant that will allow us to go ahead with our development.

"We are very excited about the prospect of entering into Southampton at a time when there is so much development going on in the city."

He said he was looking forward to working closely with Southampton City College catering students and they would have an active student recruitment programme.

Councillor Paul Jenks, chairman of the Southampton Regeneration Board, said: "The hotel will provide an attractive gateway into the city centre to improve the appearance of the of the area. Coupled with the major regeneration scheme in St Mary's, it will make a real difference to the revival of this part of Southampton.

"The project will bring up to 100 new jobs for local people and the many thousands of visitors using the hotel each year will really help to boost the local economy."

The hotel is the latest project in the inner city area and lies on the edge of the recently announced £12 million St Mary Street redevelopment, which includes 83 new housing units, a doctors surgery and a brand new market square. A total of 28 properties will be demolished to make way for the new buildings.

Nearby at Saxon Wharf, regeneration cash is supporting the £6 million redevelopment of a Marine Trade Centre which is set to create 184 marine related jobs on the River Itchen.