City aspires to high-rise skyline in radical plans

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A £500m vision to bring a New York or Shanghai-style skyline to Portsmouth has been unveiled.

Following the revelation of a £60m road scheme to unclog traffic congestion in Portsmouth city centre, a plan to build high-rise towers full of thousands of homes, business space and retail options was proposed yesterday.

Shanghai - the type of buildings that Portsmouth's council hopes to see built as part of its city centre redevelopment

Picture: Gensler

Shanghai - the type of buildings that Portsmouth's council hopes to see built as part of its city centre redevelopment Picture: Gensler

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the city council, presented the vision to stakeholders at the Spinnaker Tower with 2,600 flats planned for the development.

She said: ‘What we want is for people to come down to the end of the new motorway exit and to see a New York-style skyline.

‘We are expecting the city to be home to 250,000 people by 2050 and these towers will create a new sense of place for the city’s residents.

‘It will provide a mix of aspiration and inspiration for all.’

Council leader Donna Jones speaks at the launch 
Picture: Habibur Rahman

Council leader Donna Jones speaks at the launch Picture: Habibur Rahman

In addition to the high-rise towers, the aim will be for the height of existing buildings along Commercial Road to be increased up to eight storeys to provide a greater mix of homes and businesses.

A flagship anchor store will also front the development with other ideas for the road including a new cinema.

Nearby supermarkets Morrisons and Sainsbury’s would be moved as part of the scheme.

Cllr Jones reiterated that the planned road changes are ‘the lynchpin’ to unlocking the land needed for the development.

Opposition leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson continued to back the road scheme though voiced his concerns on its cost.

In regards to the skyline proposals, he said: ‘There are considerable concerns about the lack of jobs being created here.

‘This development seems more catered towards housing and less about providing jobs. Yes, we need homes but this should be a balanced mix of residential and business use. Also, how do we know it will not just become student housing? I want guarantees that it won’t end up as homes for students.’

John Butt, a retail expert from property firm Lambert Smith Hampton, said the scheme could ‘unlock the city’s potential as modern retail hub’ but pushed for a ‘creative’ balance of uses.

He said: ‘The right mix of retail, restaurants, residential and office business development will be critical to the success of the scheme.’

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: ‘Our Commercial Road store has been serving customers for 30 years, is incredibly popular and will continue to trade.’