Multi-million-pound Portsmouth Unite accommodation towers ‘could leave students vulnerable’

An artist's impression of what the Chaucer House site on Isambard Brunel Road would look like
An artist's impression of what the Chaucer House site on Isambard Brunel Road would look like
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PLANS to create £30m student towers in Portsmouth have been given the green light – despite the university’s fears it will the jeopardise the safety of students living nearby and force them into a ‘vulnerable’ situation.

Student accommodation developer Unite was yesterday given permission by the council’s planning committee to build 484 rooms in two blocks over 12,081sq m following the demolition of buildings on Isambard Brunel Road, which includes the redevelopment of Chaucer House.

We are very concerned about safety and the amenity of students at Margaret Rule Hall, during the construction of the development.

Bernie Topham, the university’s chief operating officer

But University of Portsmouth chiefs said they had not been properly consulted and construction could have a big impact on students in Margaret Rule Hall – based on the same road.

Bernie Topham, the university’s chief operating officer, said: ‘We are very concerned about safety and the amenity of students at Margaret Rule Hall, during the construction of the development.

‘The route to all access would be within an unsophisticated, enclosed walkway and we are concerned access won’t be just to those students entering, and make students vulnerable, particularly if they are entering late at night.’

A letter from the university’s vice-chancellor, Graham Galbraith, said: ‘It is our wish to continue to work with Unite in the spirit of partnership, which we feel is in the best interests of our students who reside in the halls.

‘We have therefore been disappointed with the lack of engagement by Unite in relation to the proposals for the proposed new development at Chaucer House.’

But Tory deputy council leader, Cllr Luke Stubbs, said: ‘Providing new, specialist housing in a location near to the university is great for the city. It frees up accommodation used by students for families to rent.’

Archie Fishlock, Unite design and planning manager, said: ‘We appreciate the concerns that have come up from the university.

‘Having been here for 15 years, we have always worked with the university, and will continue to do so.

‘In order to address their concerns primarily about the safety of their students, we will work with the university to ensure safety during the construction period.’

Leading approval of the plans, Cllr Ken Ellcome said: ‘It will bring benefit to this part of the city. With all respects to the university, ignoring their concerns, I think it should be supported.’

Close to 3,000 student rooms have now been earmarked for the city centre, with accommodation going up in Surrey Street, on the Zurich House site and at Wingfield House. Work is now complete on 1,400 homes in Greetham Street.