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ABP give backing to Southampton's £450m Royal Pier redevelopment plans
IT is the “flagship” £450m plan which could transform Southampton’s waterfront into one of the nation’s most vibrant seafront destinations.
Now the redevelopment of the derelict Royal Pier is a giant step closer to reality after Associated British Port (ABP) bosses, who own the majority of the land, voted to back the proposals.
Civic chiefs have hailed the decision as a vital boost for the vision, which is seen as one of the most important projects in the city for decades.
The revamped waterfront could feature a luxury hotel, a marina, rows of posh restaurants and bars and would also become a purpose-built new home for the PSP Southampton Boat Show.
It could also provide a huge economic boost by creating 6,900 jobs.
The Royal Pier was opened by Princess Victoria - who was soon to become queen - in 1833 and was one of the city’s finest landmarks for more than a century.
But the historic structure was devastated by two fires, in 1987 and 1992, and reduced to a tangle of twisted metal and wood.
Fire on the Royal Pier in 1987.
In 2010 the city council announced its plans to redevelop the site, which it owns alongside ABP and The Crown Estate, which is the Crown’s property portfolio, into a waterfront district which civic chiefs believe could turn Southampton into one of Europe’s most dynamic waterfront cities.
The scheme is seen as a key part of the city masterplan which lays out what Southampton could look like in 2030.
Morgan Sindall Investments Limited (MSIL) was appointed as preferred developer, and the firm has drawn up outline plans to turn the site from a derelict ruin into a complex featuring a multi-storey 200-bedroom hotel, a mega-casino, restaurants and bars, which would be placed around a new marina.
Mayflower Park would see widespread imprvement works carried out, while there would also be better public access to the waterfront.
What the area could look like
As part of the scheme, the Grand Harbour Hotel’s car park could house a residential development.
It is understood Kuti’s Royal Pier Thai restuarant, which is in the former pier gatehouse, would not be affected by the development.
However MSIL’s plans are only a concept for what the site could be, and may change before a planning application is handed in to the city council.
Council bosses were waiting on a decision from ABP’s board as to whether the firm would sign a landowners’ development agreement alongside the authority and The Crown Estate which would allow a planning application to be submitted.
Yesterday, ABP’s board, featuring representatives from company shareholders Prudential, Goldman Sachs, GIC and Borealis, met with Southampton port director Doug Morrison and decided to sign the agreement.
Another possible concept for the Royal Pier and Mayflower Park.
That means the agreement may now be signed within the next few weeks, and a planning application is set to be handed in early next year.
Provided the application clears the hurdles of the planning process, construction work could begin in 2015.
One of the first phases would involve the construction of a new Red Funnel ferry terminal, while the current one would only close once the new terminal is ready for use.
Mr Morrison, who, as revealed by the Daily Echo, is stepping down as port director in December, said the board’s decision was a “green light” for the Royal Pier project.
He said: “We recognise how important this is for the city and that was a major factor in the board’s decision.
“We are delighted that the board supported it. It was a big decision for them, because they are very aware of the risk from residents objecting to plans in the future, but I think we were able to give comfort to them on that front.”
Labour council leader Simon Letts said: “This is superb news. It should now be full steam ahead for the planning application, which I hope will come forward in the new year. This will open up the whole waterfront to redevelopment and will be a fillip to the city’s economy.
“To quote Churchill, I think this is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.”
Conservative opposition leader Royston Smith, whose party was in power when the scheme first took shape in 2010, said: “This has had and will continue to have cross-party support.
“It is in my view the flagship development of Southampton and one that will make the most progress in bringing the city master plan to fruition.”
Southampton's Royal Pier in 1959
Royal Pier Development - questions and answers
Why is ABP’s decision so important?
ABP owns the biggest portion of the land which will be built on as part of the proposed development. Without their consent, much of the land would not be able to be developed on and the whole scheme would have been in jeopardy.
So what’s next for the plans?
ABP, the council and The Crown Estate will sign an agreement as landowners agreeing that the land will be developed. A planning application will be handed in to the council, probably early next year, and if the plans are eventually approved building work could begin in early 2015.
Who is going to be building the new development?
The city council held a competition to find the preferred company to carry out the development. Morgan Sindall Investments Limited was chosen and the company will be entrusted with the task of making the dream for the Royal Pier a reality.
How is it going to be paid for?
Morgan Sindall and investment firm Lucent have been tasked with pulling together the funding for the project – most of it will be paid for by the firms that will occupy the casino, hotels, offices and other buildings that will make up the development. It is also hoped Government funding can be gained to help fund the project.
All about the Royal Pier redevelopment plans over the years:
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