PLANS for a new hotel in Southampton city centre have been approved.

A five-storey hotel with 97 rooms, a reception, a lounge, a cafe and a gym is set to be built at the site once occupied by NatWest in High Street.

The name of the hotel operator, the cost of the investment and the number of jobs that will be created are yet to be revealed.

But according to the proposal, the former NatWest building will be demolished while the nearby stores No Limits and Coral would be retained and revamped with new exteriors.

The plans were put forward by Murry Anderson of Stelling Properties and have been approved by planning officers at Southampton City Council (SCC).

In an official document agent David Jobbins from Luken Beck said: "The introduction of a well-designed hotel will

contribute successfully to the attractiveness of the city and will reinforce the vitality and vibrancy of the area. "

As reported, the NatWest branch in High Street closed two years ago and has been empty since.

John Noon, inset, councillor for Bargate ward, said he welcomed the empty site on the High Street to be brought into use.

"The hotel will bring job opportunities and increase the footfall on East Street and High Street, which local businesses can only welcome," he added.

The news has also been welcomed by Go! Southampton, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the city centre.

Its chief executive Giles Semper said: "Any initiative that adds to the city’s offering for tourists is good news for the economy. It will bring jobs and increased spend to the city, and it also shows that Southampton is becoming a focal point for both businesses and visitors.Southampton is a flourishing destination and we believe its true tourism potential is yet to be fully reached.”

The news comes a few days after the Government announced that Southampton has been shortlisted for a major funding scheme and could receive up to £25m to transform the High Street.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has approached the applicant for comment.