Southampton’s Labour Council investing and leading the way as Toys R Us site scheme gets green light
Southampton is a city on the up, recognised as one of the top cities for growth, for its increasing importance as a high-tech hub and is attracting investment, particularly in new housing and infrastructure like high speed broadband.
A decision was made to move forward with a £27m investment (with developer JLL) on the Toys’r’us site, which in the first phase will deliver a high-specification office block and some new public space and walkways and a mixture of residential and further commercial use in future phases. The Council is the freeholder of the site and has taken the opportunity to lead investment in the office market rather than allow the site to continue in its current form. It is a key site, close to the station and a ‘gateway’ location that when first developed in the 1980s kickstarted the first wave of redevelopment of what was once a vast manufacturing site for Pirelli.
Councillor Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: “Southampton needs world class public realm and to open up more of its waterfront for our residents and visitors to enjoy. The Mayflower Quarter (the 100-acre area from the Mayflower Theatre to Mayflower Park) gives us a unique opportunity as one of the largest urban regeneration sites in the UK. Things have moved on since the 1980s, this is our chance to update the city, bring in new employers and opportunities and drive up average wages, which are too low at the moment, as well as provide a more sustainable site for economic activity, something very much in tune with our ‘Green City’ ambitions.
What businesses are saying to us is that increasingly, it is HR departments that are deciding the location of businesses, on the basis they want to attract the best people. Generally, people don’t want to have long commutes, they want to be able to walk or get to work more easily and enjoy what the city has to offer. This Labour Council is stepping in as an investment partner, based on evidence of demand from major businesses, and aims to stimulate the market to follow our lead.
The council’s mission is to achieve ‘a city of opportunity where everyone thrives’, and we are determined to seize every chance we get to create more wealth and opportunity for everyone in this city, particularly with better-paid and skilled jobs.’