A SOUTHAMPTON shopping mall is to be demolished to make way for a flagship supermarket, the Daily Echo can reveal.

East Street shopping centre will be bulldozed and replaced with a giant Morrisons that will create 400 jobs and bring thousands of shoppers into the city. The new three-storey building will also restore a pedestrian link from St Mary’s to the retail centre.

The proposals, by property firm Arcadian Estates, to redevelop the 6,430 square metre site have been welcomed by Southampton City Council.

Council leader Royston Smith said: “This is great news. It will bring life to the area and 400 vital jobs to the city.

“One of our key requirements was to open up the link between St. Mary’s and the city centre, which is incorporated in Arcadian’s plans. This will create a higher footfall and ultimately bring more business to the whole area.”

Morrisons is already under contract to lease the new store, which is due to open in late 2013 or early 2014.

Morrisons boss Peter Foy said: “This is a great opportunity for Morrisons as we grow nationwide. We are extremely keen to open more stores in the region. We operate at the heart of many communities and are looking forward to helping regenerate the area by bringing our full offer, incorporating Morrisons unique Market Street format of fresh food counters, excellent service and great value to East Street.”

The development will also include the provision of surface level parking for the Capital House office block, which will be refurbished during a subsequent phase of the overall project.

The East Street Shopping Centre, just minutes from Southampton High Street, was originally built during the 1970s. Once popular it has dwindled in recent years until it contained just a couple of businesses.

Many of the best known stores have opted for the newer malls such as Ocean Village, then the Bargate, later the Marlands and now WestQuay.

Southampton City Council owns the freehold and Arcadian Estates, part of the London & Henley Property Group, owns the long leasehold of the site.

John De Stefano, chairman of London & Henley, said: “London & Henley has been a long-term investor in Southampton and, in partnership with the city council, we are delighted to be able to bring an exciting new project to a much-needed area of the city.”

Urban regeneration specialist Centros will design the food store scheme which will include two floors of car parking above the new.

Development director David Lewis said: “The East Street area is sorely in need of regeneration and we believe that recreating an open streetscape and providing a strong and complementary retail attraction at the St Mary’s end of the street is a solution that will successfully create a new eastern gateway, help to transform this part of the city centre and stimulate further regeneration.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year with construction work due to begin in 2012.