Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Work starts on £500m Woolston quay development

Plans of the site
Image caption It is hoped the development would "act as a catalyst" to improve the area

Work has started on a controversial £500m housing and leisure development.

The Centenary Quay area, in Woolston, Southampton, is set to be redeveloped to include over 1,600 homes, offices, a hotel, and create more than 1,000 jobs.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles attended a launch event earlier on Wednesday.

Residents have argued the area would not be able to cope with increased traffic and a number of new-built apartments in the area remain empty.

Mr Pickles, who posed for photographers at the site with a spade to mark the start of construction work, hoped the development would "act as a catalyst" to improve the whole area.

"Rather a lot of public money has gone in to making the site safe, decontaminating the land and the like," he said.

"This is going to take a number of years to complete and you can't built houses on the basis of what the current market is, and I think this will be something people of Southampton will be proud of."

The site had been home to shipbuilding since the mid-19th Century, which was taken over by Vosper Thornycroft from 1904 until the business relocated to Portsmouth in 2004.

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