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Green light for FOA but no start date in sight

Foreign Office Architects has won the initial green light for its £100 million Watermark WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton

However developer Hammerson has confirmed it has no plans to actually start constructing the 76,000m² mixed-sue mall and residential project despite the decision to approve the outline plans by Southampton City Council yesterday (14 April 2009).

A spokesman for the property group said it would wait ‘until market conditions improved’ before work on site would begin.

In the meantime, the architects are expected to continue to ‘progress with the planning and design stages’ which will also feature a  public plaza, restaurant quarter, ‘luxury’ cinema, a pocket park, and hotel.

Russell Beresford, project manager for Hammerson, said: ‘We are continuing our discussions with retailers and leisure operators so we are in a positive position to advance the scheme when conditions improve.

“We remain committed to the development and Watermark WestQuay will continue our successful investment in the city.’

Last month CABE released its design review comments on the proposals which it hailed as ‘bold in their aspiration.’

The government’s design watchdog went onto add: ‘However, if the scheme is to work in its current form it will require particular attention both to the design detail of the individual buildings as well as to the treatment of the associated landscape and public realm. Ultimately, the success of this scheme will rely heavily on careful conditioning of the parameters and design principles as part of the outline consent to ensure that the commitment to high quality design is achieved.’

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