Leisure world could be bulldozed in order to build a new conference centre to rival the Bournemouth International Centre, according to Council chiefs.
The complex which opened in 1997 and holds Oceana Nightclub, the Odeon Cinema and a handful of restaurants was described yesterday as looking “a bit tired” leader of the Council, Simon Letts.
The plans for the new centre, which has been compared to London’s O2 Arena, include a hotel, restaurants, flats and a ‘public space’ in order to make Southampton the “capital city of the South”. The council is testing its feasibility over the following 9 months, and aims to have a formal plan by the end of 2017. Warehouses off West Quay Road which are currently being used by John Lewis may also be flattened.
Currently, the council plans to open the new development in 2023, along with the £450million Royal Pier development.
Councillors hope the new complex would attract a-list bands and politicians as well as academic and political conferences.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, he said
Southampton has a rich history and industrial past, and it now needs to be a modern, vibrant European city and the capital of the south of England.
Adding, he wants to create “a vibrant public space rather than being a collection of streets bombed by the Luftwaffe and reconstructed after World War Two”
When the complex opened in 1997 it was the biggest leisure centre in western Europe, with a bowling alley, two nightclubs, a live music bar, and Odeon’s biggest complex in the UK.
The cost of the of new complex will run into the hundreds of millions, which may be partially paid for by the £1bn Solent devolution deal. It is hoped that the current tenants will move into the scheme.
A spokeswoman for Oceana said:
We are committed to staying in Southampton and as yet there are no plans to relocate. It’s great to see so much investment in the city and we look forward to continuing to be part of the vibrant leisure economy.
A spokesman for Frankie & Benny’s said it was “too early to say” whether it would stay in Southampton
Wessex Scene were unable to reach representatives from Grosvenor Casinos, ASK Italian, or Odeon.