1. ITV Report

Council agrees to borrow £27m for new 70,000 sq ft office space at Southampton Toys R Us site

The new development will offer 70,000 sq ft of office space.

Southampton City Council has agreed to spend £27m on a office building at the derelict Toys R Us site.

The money is due to come from external borrowing.

It's part of a £150m project for the site which also see 275 flats, new shops, restaurants and possibly a gym.

The Toys R Us store has been unused since the company went into administration in 2018.

The scheme was discussed behind closed doors at the council yesterday.

Council officers told the meeting the proposed office building is "about the right size at this moment in time in the market" and it could be a "catalyst generating other office."

But opposition councillors abstained from the vote, saying they wanted to deliver the scheme with 'less risk for the taxpayers.'

We abstained simply because we don't believe that all the financial models have been explored and we will want to look to deliver those scheme with less risk for the taxpayers. Under the current proposal there's a risk that the taxpayers could be left with the building that does not have enough rental income to cover its cost. We weren't reassured by the commitment of the potential tenants. If the strength of the commitment from the tenants was strong enough we would be minded to support it."

– Cllr Dan Fitzhenry, Leader of the opposition Conservative group
The office is part of the first phase of the project.

Leader of the Council Christopher Hammond described the scheme as a once in a generation opportunity.

We have got a robust plan which we generate for every investment that we make and this has been independently verified. We are going to be bold and ambitious for Southampton. We think it deserves the best. This investment will give the city an economic and social value return. This is an exciting development that has been approved by full council."

– Cllr Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council

The scheme is part of plans to redevelop the so called 'Mayflower Quarter', which the council describes as one of the largest urban regeneration areas in the UK.