CITY councillors are to decide whether to invest  £27m  into a new office building in Southampton.

At a full council meeting set to be held at the civic centre this afternoon (SEP 18) councillors will be asked to approve spending £27m on a  70,000 sq ft office building at the derelict Toys R Us site.

Daily Echo:

The money would come from  external borrowing and the investment is expected to be discussed behind closed doors.

As reported the new office space will be part of a £150m project which will also see 275 flats, restaurants and shops built at the unused site in Western Esplanade.

These facilities including the new office building will be part of the first phase of the scheme.

More flats and  possibly more office space or a new hotel will be built as part of the second and third phases of the project.

Daily Echo:

As reported the office building set to be funded by Southampton City Council (SCC) will incorporate a business lounge off the reception area as well as flexible co-working spaces on the lower floors.

Council leader Christopher Hammond said there is a proven market for purpose built office accommodation in Southampton. 

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith had previously said that the investment is “too risky”.

Daily Echo:

Opposition leader Councillor Dan Fitzhenry said the project is a first-class-offer and added that given the council is borrowing the money to build new offices further details will have to be discussed at the full council meeting. 

Giles Semper, the executive director of Go!Southampton, the BusinessImprovement District (BID) for the city centre, had previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the BID welcomes the council’s plan to invest into a new office building at the Toys R Us site but said that more offices are needed in Western Esplanade in order to create a Central Business District (CBD).

Daily Echo:

An official document published by SCC  ahead of the meeting reads: “There has been a loss of office floor-space and minimal new office build, leading to a number of businesses leaving the city, particularly for out of town offices along the M27 corridor.

"This arrangement has not optimised the access of those businesses to talent  particularly to Southampton residents and graduates from the two universities and businesses have indicated a wish to return to the city centre.

"Moreover, the city’s economy has moved more towards lower skill and part time employment due to the nature of the jobs which have been created.

"The Toys R Us site can bring back higher skilled and paid jobs for progression of residents and attraction of others, thus underpinning quality of life. ”

The full council meeting will start at 2pm.