Business, Southampton

Business Southampton

📰 Southampton: Key City

Southampton aims to be the economic powerhouse on the south coast of England, which it is already well on the way to achieving.  Renowned as the cruise capital of Europe, this centre of marine and maritime excellence has yet more to offer and is working towards the vision of being a world-class waterfront city.

The journey towards the future of Southampton’s city centre began in 2012 when the city council launched its City Centre Master Plan.  This plan identified seven major, VIP projects that would rejuvenate key areas of the city centre, providing much needed development and infrastructure.  As well as attracting further investment, new brands, retail, hospitality and leisure, the master plan also identified the potential to create and secure 7,000 new jobs, thus bolstering the city’s economy over the coming years and for many more to come.

One of these VIP projects is the city’s new Cultural Quarter; the latest addition to this being a new Arts Complex scheme. 

In recent years the Cultural Quarter in Southampton, to the north of the city centre and away from the busier shopping and thoroughfare areas, has seen a raft of major transformation.  A newly pedestrianised Guildhall Square was created in 2011 and the new SeaCity Museum, home to the Titanic story and exhibition space, was opened in 2012.  Couple these developments with the world-renowned Mayflower Theatre, O2 Guildhall, the City Art Gallery, the Southampton Solent University Showcase Gallery and the Nuffield Theatre within touching distance, and a new bustling, leisure and ‘night-time economy’ quarter began to emerge.

    • Arts Complex by night from Guildhall Square

    Arts Complex by night from Guildhall Square - Photo Credit: Grosvenor GBI

The new Arts Complex scheme will culminate the vision for this area, bringing together not only two new performing arts spaces with an extensive new city centre gallery space for Southampton University’s John Hansard Gallery, multimedia arts organisation City Eye and 38 luxury apartments, but a further seven retail/restaurant units.  It will ignite an even greater sense of excitement, ambition, affluence and buzz around the area.

More than 50% of the retail units within the complex are now under offer, with the expectation that the remaining units will be let imminently.

But, this improvement has not occurred in isolation.

Elsewhere in the city, other VIP projects are also in progress, including: new city centre homes to tie together previously sporadic areas of the city at the Fruit and Vegetable Market; the new Watermark West Quay luxury cinema complex with up to 20 restaurants, cafes and bars in the Heart of the City, will be starting on site in the autumn; Solent University’s new city centre campus has started on site, and; early consultations are underway for £400 million Royal Pier Waterfront.  And that’s on top of the extensive Crest Nicholson 1,000+ new homes development to the East of the city at Centenary Quay, 299 waterfront apartments in Ocean Village at Allied Development’s Admirals Quay to the south, and Southampton University’s central 1,000+ bedroom Mayflower Halls, which opens in September 2014.

    • Dawn Baxendale, Southampton City Council CEO (centre) with committed developers and Savills sponsor Gavin Hall (left)

    Dawn Baxendale, Southampton City Council CEO (centre) with committed developers and Savills sponsor Gavin Hall (left)

    • Watermark WestQuay: view of piazza

    Watermark WestQuay: view of piazza - Photo Credit: Hammerson/ACME

    • Royal Pier illustration March 2014

    Royal Pier illustration March 2014

    • Centenary Quay illustration

    Centenary Quay illustration

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Many of these developments already have occupiers lined up and part of the reason for this early occupier enthusiasm can be put down to the energetic and proactive manner in which Southampton City Council has marketed the city, collaboratively with our developers.  This approach is unheard of, but has been key to our strategy to showcase the developments in the city and the opportunities therein, together.

Recent breakfast briefings hosted by Savills and CBRE have been testament to this approach, each presented to capacity crowds and generating positive leads.  One of the proposed lettings at the Arts Complex was introduced to developers, Grosvenor, at our London briefing in May, and two more operators represented at that briefing are now in advanced talks for Arts Complex units, with the expectation that they will be agreed shortly.

Each of our developers believes, as the council does, that Southampton has a lot to offer, which can be seen across the crane speckled skyline, but also through recent facts and figures.  In 2013 Southampton was ranked  second in England for ‘Good Growth’ [PwC and Think Tank Demos] as well as demonstrating the highest Gross Value Added [GVA] in the Solent region at 18% [DfNS], a whopping 10% higher than the national average, with its marine and maritime industry valued at £831 million.

In two years, since the launch of the City Centre Master Plan, Southampton has achieved £1.5 billion of its £3 billion ambition for investment, has over 2,500 of its 5,000 target for new homes either being built or with planning permission, Employment and Skills Plans have supported 5,842 people towards a new career, through work and educational based training opportunities (since January 2012), and five of its seven VIP projects either on site or about to be; Southampton is certainly building a brighter future.