Work to begin on new arts complex scheme in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter12th November 2013
Grosvenor Developments Ltd has awarded the construction contract for the new city centre arts complex project, which it is undertaking in partnership with Southampton City Council, to McLaren Construction Ltd. This will see construction works begin on 18 November 2013, of an arts complex, seven retail units and 38 apartments.
To celebrate the start of construction, a ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony took place on 12 November, where The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Ivan White, put a spade in the ground and officially commenced the building of the hugely anticipated arts complex scheme, overlooking Guildhall Square. The ceremony officially marked the handover of the site to Grosvenor and McLaren by Southampton City Council.
McLaren will be setting up the site prior to the commencement of works on 18 November, including the erection of hoardings around the perimeter and delivery of equipment and materials.
The retail and residential elements are scheduled to open in spring 2015 and, following a 12 month fit out programme, the arts complex is due to open in 2016. The £40 million scheme will provide over 300 direct jobs and is expected to bring 750,000 visitors to the city every year.
The completed arts complex will incorporate City Eye, the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery and a multi-purpose performing arts centre with two flexible performance spaces and a dance studio.
Arts Council England awarded Southampton City Council £7.3 million towards the scheme as part of its National Lottery-funded Capital programme.
Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council said: “I am delighted that work will soon commence on this fantastic project in the heart of our growing Cultural Quarter. The arts complex will provide residents and visitors to the city with a truly world class facility and help establish Southampton as a leading cultural centre. I am really pleased to see work start on one of the seven VIP projects in our City Centre Master Plan which aims to bring 24,000 new jobs, 5,000 new homes, and £3 billion of investment into the city by 2030”.
Simon Armstrong, project director at Grosvenor Developments Ltd, said: “The development team have worked hard to ensure the delivery of the new arts complex and the appointment of McLaren will see it become a reality. We look forward to working with McLaren and the City Council to deliver this major new building to Southampton in 2015.”
Phil Pringle, Managing Director McLaren Construction said: “This is the first contract McLaren has secured from Grosvenor and Southampton City Council and to have won this job is testament to our growing reputation and track record in the commercial, education and leisure sectors. The new arts complex is an exciting project, which will create a first-class mixed-use destination in a prime city location.”
Stephen Foster, Director of the John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton said “This is a major milestone and the moment our long-awaited plans truly start to be realised. We’re looking forward to bringing some fantastic visual arts projects to the site as it develops that give local people a taster of things to come.”
City Eye’s Director, Susan Beckett, echoed Stephen Foster’s sentiments and added: “The new development will include first class facilities for film and media production, and training alongside film screenings. We look forward to welcoming people of all ages and levels of experience to create and experience wonderful film.”
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said: “We’re very pleased to see our Capital award supporting a vital new hub for arts and culture in Southampton. The Capital programme is about backing really exciting projects for maintaining and improving the arts infrastructure in this country. When the right arts and cultural buildings are in place, organisations thrive, artists benefit and more audiences are able to enjoy great art in great spaces.
“This complex will mean that everyone in Southampton has access to high quality arts opportunities right in the heart of their city and can only strengthen the contribution cultural organisations already make to the local economy.”
Arts Complex groundbreaking ceremony, November 2013
Southampton's New Arts Complex, The Cultural Quarter (Credit: CZWG)