Gosport councillors say developer failed to market site properly

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A DEVELOPER has been criticised for not ‘fulfilling its obligations’ to find commercial interest for an empty building.

A planning application was submitted to Gosport Borough Council to turn the Slaughterhouse at Royal Clarence Yard into a church.

There are plenty of groups and businesses who would like to come here.

Cllr Mark Hook

But councillors on the planning board refused the
application, saying the unit would be better for commercial use.

Council leader Mark Hook criticised Royal Clarence Yard developer and landowner Berkeley Homes for failing to find interest from a business.

He said: ‘I believe that Berkeley Homes has not fulfilled its obligations in finding commercial interest for this practical site.

‘There are plenty of groups and businesses who would like to come here.

‘That site has to create a number of jobs but this application will create very, very few.

‘Berkeley Homes is aware of that and its responsibilities to this town.’

Councillor Stephen Philpott, chairman of the economic development board, gave a deputation at the meeting.

He said: ‘I want to see a vibrant waterfront and I don’t believe this site was properly marketed.

‘I think there is a very real fear among many that Berkeley Homes created a situation where it’s much more difficult for commercial units to come in.

‘But it’s not impossible. I think if it was advertised properly, we would find commercial units that would create jobs for Gosport people.’

Gosport Waterfront Baptist Church had submitted the application for a change of use to include a church and meeting space as well as cafe or restaurant.

Stuart Deverill from the church said the space would be used by a number of community groups and there had already been a lot of interest from people in the area to use the site.

He added approving the application would provide a long-term future for the Slaughterhouse.

But councillors voted to refuse the application, against the recommendation of the planning officers.

Berkeley Homes did not comment when contacted by The News.