A PROJECT which was to kick-start the regeneration of The Hard will go ahead, despite hold-ups.
Europa House was bought by Gunwharf Quays owners Land Securities in 2012 after its former owners, Pall Europe, moved out.
The plan was to turn it into a £10m Travelodge Hotel, create 36 jobs and bring the area up to the same standard as Gunwharf Quays itself.
Approval for the plan was given by Portsmouth City Council almost 18 months ago, but since then there has been little visible work happening on the 18-storey building.
A source close to the project told The News that the work had been stopped because of ‘surprising levels’ of asbestos in the tower block.
However, Jack Busby, asset manager for Land Securities’ estate in Portsmouth, said all the asbestos has been removed from the building.
He said: ‘The tower has had its asbestos taken out and it is not the reason for the development at this point not happening.
‘It would be unfair to say the Travelodge is not happening because of asbestos. There are other factors to consider.’
As previously reported, the original plan was to convert the landmark Europa House tower – former home of Pall Europe – into a 170-bedroom hotel, subject to approval from city planners.
Land Securities aimed to spend around £1m on the building’s car park alone, in the hope of bringing it up to the same standard as the award-winning underground facility at Gunwharf Quays.
Mr Busby added: ‘Land Securities is still considering a range of commercial uses for the building, working on getting the right mix.
‘Asbestos is not an obstacle that would stop us doing something with the building. Land Securities is still appraising a variety of uses for Europa House and is keen to see it being part of the wider regeneration of The Hard area.
‘We’re working on that still.
‘We understand the impact of a building like Europa House being left, and we don’t want people to feel Land Securities have given up on it.
‘We’re looking into the financial feasibility of a number of options.’
Councillors say Portsmouth is ‘crying out’ for extra hotel beds as increasing investment is made in the city to persuade businesses to move in.
They unanimously approved Land Securities’ plans for Travelodge to move into the city, and urged other hoteliers to follow suit.