THIS is a major disaster – those are the words of concerned councillors over the news the long-promised Northern Quarter shopping plans have been scrapped.
Councillor Steve Hastings, Ukip spokesman for planning, regeneration and economic development, said he was ‘gobsmacked’ as other large scale projects are happening such as the creation of Sir Ben Ainslie’s race base.
‘This is a major disaster, there is no other way of putting it,’ he said.
‘It’s a disaster from a jobs perspective.
‘I am gobsmacked that it has come to a halt after this amount of time, and I thought that we were steaming ahead with regeneration schemes at the moment. This is a development that is needed desperately.’
Cllr Aiden Gray, pictured left, Labour planning spokesman, said the blame falls squarely on the former Lib Dem-run council for not pushing harder for the scheme.
‘It falls squarely on the previous administration and former councillor Mike Hancock, who was the man in charge of economic regeneration in the city,’ he said.
‘Southampton has a wonderful set up in WestQuay, it’s bustling, and while we have got Gunwharf Quays, our offer needs to match offers in other cities.’
Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said: ‘It’s a major blow, once again it’s a missed opportunity for the city, largely because of the way it as been managed over the last seven or eight years.’
But Maureen Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘While we of course would like to see a major development creating jobs and business activity on the site, we have to be realistic in the current economic climate.
‘The scale of what was proposed eight or nine years ago may not be currently possible given the levels of investor interest we typically see in our region and elsewhere.
‘It would therefore not be a huge surprise if there was less retail and more housing involved.’