SOUTHAMPTON’S newest business park, which could bring up to 1,200 jobs to the city, has taken its first step towards completion.

Phase one of Mountpark was officially opened yesterday, with council leader Simon Letts cutting the ribbon on the 650 job site in Swaythling – previously home to motor giants Ford.

Bosses behind the whole £100 million scheme also announced early work had begun on the bigger phase two development.

They hope to gain planning permission in the coming weeks, while work on the much anticipated Landrover-Jaguar site, opposite, is expected to begin later this month.

Once completed, business chiefs expect the whole site could create as many as 1,200 jobs for the city – 200 more than originally planned.

It will also be more than double the amount of people employed by Ford, which produced its last vehicle there in 2013.

Philip O’ Callaghan, managing director of UK developments at Mountpark, said: “Obviously we are delighted to open phase one, which contains three units.

“We began building these three units without having agreements with companies, so the fact that we’ve managed to fill them makes us confident about phase two.

“We believe we may have in excess of 1,200 jobs at full capacity.

“We managed to get 620 jobs in a 200,000 sqft site, so we would hope to do another 620 at least in a 340,000 sqft site.”

Work began on phase one of the project in December last year.

Agreements have since been reached with Murray Health and Beauty, textile company, Berendsen and Cooper Vision to occupy the three completed units.

Mr O’ Callaghan said he hoped work on phase two will be completed by September 2018.

Although he said no agreements had been reached with any company to take over one of the four new units, he did confirm that talks were ongoing.

Mr O’ Callaghan said: “We are in talks with some exciting names.”

Councillor Simon Letts added: “When Ford left we said this would only be used as a site for employment.

“Because we stuck to that fact it made this possible

“We were very fortunate to get Mountpark on board and they have been a great partner.”

Scroll through the gallery above to see pictures of the Ford factory through the years