It has been years in the making but construction work has begun on the Watermark WestQuay project.
The project, located on a disused brown field site between WestQuay shopping centre, the Quays diving complex and the walls of the Old Town of Southampton, is hoped to be open in Autumn 2016 according to developers Hammerson.
The redeveloped site will include a ten screen cinema, restaurants, hotel and residential apartments. The first two of these have already been granted permission and work will begin on the final two in the coming years. The heart of the scheme will be a public plaza, almost one and a half times the size of Guildhall Square, running between the development and the City’s Medieval walls.
The site was formerly occupied by the Pirelli cable factory, formerly a well known employer in the city and makers of undersea and telephone cables. The factory previously covered the site as well as the site of West Quay shopping centre, IKEA and the retail park in the area. It is the last part of the factory site to be redeveloped, meaning this development finishes off a process started decades ago.
The developers Hammerson are describing Watermark WestQuay as an entertainment driven venue with the intention being that it will complement the existing shopping centre rather than replace it. The occupier of the multiplex has been confirmed as Showcase Cinemas who intend to use it to form part of their De Lux brand of luxury screens. They are new to the city with their nearest cinema located in Reading.
A total of £70 million is being invested in the site with £7 million coming from the Regional Growth Fund to be used to fund the plaza and public realm improvements. The development is identified by Southampton City council as a ‘VIP’ project that will provide new infrastructure and jobs.
Guy Wells, developer Hammerson’s Development Manager, commented:
“Starting on site in the New Year will mean we have reached a significant milestone in the development process and is testament to the hard work of everyone involved to get to this stage. Having already secured the first Showcase Cinema de Lux for the region we are continuing to make good progress in delivering Southampton with a range of exciting new restaurants, some of which will be a first for the city.”
Meanwhile the Leader of Southampton City Council, Councillor Simon Letts, said:
“I am looking forward to seeing work officially start on site and to see the development emerge. This is a vital first phase in linking the City Centre to the Waterfront via a world class piece of public open space. It forms part of our ‘Heart of the City’ VIP project to invigorate the city centre, creating over 500 jobs and providing outstanding leisure facilities for residents and visitors to enjoy. We will continue to work closely alongside Hammerson to ensure that disruption to the public throughout the development process is kept to a minimum.”
You can find out more at: www.westquaywatermark.com