PLANS to transform a failed Southampton shopping mall into a new Morrisons supermarket have been enthusiastically backed by the community and nearby traders.

Developers yesterday went public with a display of their plans to demolish the once popular 1970s East Street shopping centre for a giant supermarket creating 400 jobs.

East Street traders welcomed the prospect of more shoppers when the empty mall is transformed.

Residents were looking forward to a modern hypermarket on their doorsteps.

Rashmi Chande, the chairman of the East Street Traders' Association, said he hoped the development would lead to more people discovering the area, which he called Southampton’s “hidden gem”.

“It will give a much needed boost to footfall in East Street. The sooner the supermarket opens the better,” he said.

A stream of members of the public passed through the mall to see an exhibition of the plans for the Morrisons store, which will include a 288 space car park above for both shoppers and visitors.

Ali Warsame, 25, a sales assistant from Chapel Town, Southampton, said: “The nearest shop is Asda of Lidl which are far away. It will make a difference to the whole area. The shopping centre is dead and the area has been dying but this will be fantastic.”

Daphne Parker, 73, a retired carer from Threefield Lane, Southampton, said: “It's a damn good idea and about time too. The shopping centre has been a white elephant and people can't wait for it to go.”

Paula Hobbs, 42, an asset manager from Fareham, working at neighbouring Capital House, added: “The scheme is very good for urban regeneration of the area.” Arcadian Estates, which own the long lease on the site, says its development will re-establish a strong pedestrian link between St Mary’s and the city centre.

Planning permission will be sought in the coming months for construction to begin by the end of the year. The store could then open in early 2014.

Capital House, the adjoining office block also owned by Arcadian Estates, will become a standalone building and be refurbished later.

The exhibition of the plans, held in East Street shopping centre’s covered square, continues today and tomorrow from 9am to 4pm.