CIVIC chiefs have approved controversial plans to take over three businesses in Southampton to bring forward a multi-million pound regeneration project.

Southampton City Council approved the plans at a cabinet meeting to purchase three premises on Queensway in Southampton and subsequently sell them to the developer Tellon Capital, the Bargate shopping centre owners, who currently own the majority of the site.

The block in which they stand is destined to be bulldozed to make way for part of the £100m Bargate Quarter development which will create a “terraced garden street” linking the 12th century Bargate monument to Queensway.

The businesses affected are Pack and Send, Casanova Italian restaurant and the British Heart Foundation.

Councillor Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council said: "We have had a long standing aspiration to get on with the Bargate Centre redevelopment.

"We are prepared to use CPO powers as a last resort if negotiations between the developers and the retailers do not end in a result.

"The CPO option is a sensible move by the council."

Councillor Jeremy Moulton, leader of the Tory opposition on the council added: "The compulsory purchase order should be a last resort, there should have been plenty of dialogue up until now.

"All indications are that it's on track. There is a developer, a plan and planning permission has been granted.

"It should be a very deliverable scheme. It's a definite positive for Southampton and I will be pleased to see more of the city walls opened up."

But Denise Wyatt, the leader of Southampton Independents said: "Why is the Labour-run Council proposing to spend even more than the £30 million of public money that they and the Tories have wasted on the Sea City Museum and the Arts Complex.

"This Bargate Centre scheme is yet another potentially disastrous and wasteful scheme."

Development on the new scheme is expected to start in the new year.