Investors and developers descended on Southampton on Friday March 16 for a major conference showcasing multi-billion pound opportunities in the city of Southampton. More than 400 delegates drawn from across the UK and including major names in retail, commercial and property development attended the event at St Mary's Stadium organised by Business Solent in conjunction with Southampton City Council and Capita.

More than 24,000 new jobs and £3 billion of new investment in the city are planned over the next 25 years as part of the new plans for Southampton city centre.

The Master Plan has a vision to create:

  • la re-mastered city centre
  • la new world-class waterfront
  • la fresh approach to transport and sustainable travel
  • la new business district
  • the adoption of the best architectural practices and much more.

Keynote speaker was international business entrepreneur, and Chairman of Boux Avenue Lingerie and Ryman Stationary, Theo Paphitis and he gave his full backing to the Master Plan.

“The Master Plan is all about generating investment, jobs and growth for the city of Southampton and that's exactly what it will do. If a city doesn't have a plan like this, there's no question in my mind that it will suffer like the proverbial high street. It's important you have investment in a city centre and you drive the people where you want them to be – if you don't they will move away,” he said.

Looking at Southampton's potential to attract new businesses due to its location and vitality, Theo said the city had a lot to shout about.

“Southampton has so much going for it. It is a vibrant place with a real mix of all sorts of people right across the spectrum. For me as a mass retailer, it is exactly what I am looking for. I like WestQuay, I visit the Boat Show and I like to see the football team – it's a nice place to be.If maybe I moved a bit further south this probably wouldn't be a million miles away from my ideal place to live.”

Speakers at the conference included Councillor Royston Smith from Southampton City Council, Joanne Cave from David Lock Associates, Kelvin Campbell from Urban Initiatives and Andrew Carter from Centre for Cities.

Also speaking were Paul Walker from Salford City Council, Professor Don Nutbeam from the University of Southampton and Stephen Boyce from Southampton Cultural Development Trust.

Councillor Royston Smith, Leader of the council, said: “Southampton is transforming. We have plans to create 24,000 new jobs through more than £3 billion of investment opportunities until 2035. Plans for a re-mastered city centre, a new world-class waterfront, and a stunning new cultural quarter in the city are all happening and will only spur on more investment and opportunity. This has been a great chance for businesses to find out how Southampton can work for them now and in the future.”

Sally Lynskey, CEO of Business Solent, said: “Friday's event was a wonderful opportunity for business leaders to find out more about the opportunities surrounding the Master Plan and how they can get involved.

“It was a showcase event and it was really exciting to see the level of interest from potential investors and developers,” she said.

The event was sponsored by Balfour Beatty, David Lock Associates, CBRE, Hays Recruitment, Ramboll UK, Southampton Football Club and the Southern Daily Echo.

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