Planners back Sir Ben Ainslie’s bid for a Portsmouth base

An artist's impression of the proposed base for Ben Ainslie's Americas Cup team
An artist's impression of the proposed base for Ben Ainslie's Americas Cup team

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THE committee that will decide whether Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup headquarters will be built in Old Portsmouth has been advised to pass the proposals.

A report published ahead of Wednesday’s city council planning committee meeting recommends members accept Ben Ainslie Racing’s controversial proposal for the British base to be built on The Camber.

In the report, city development officer Claire Upton-Brown says the design of the building is ‘considered to be of an excellent architectural quality with an innovative and unique design that would successfully reflect the nature of the proposed hi-tech maritime use’.

The report says: ‘Such a bold and inspiring design in this highly-prominent location would help establish an iconic structure on the city’s waterfront’.

It concludes the economic benefits to the city would outweigh the ‘less-than-significant harm to the heritage assets’ in Old Portsmouth.

The officer does say conditions should be attached to the planning consent.

According to the report, the authority received 127 letters and emails during the consultation period. Of these, 71 were objecting to the development.

Old Portsmouth resident Malcolm Hill has previously told The News: ‘I don’t like the way this has been railroaded through and taken as a fait accompli. The public seems to have been kept out of it.’

Work has started to move businesses from the north side of The Camber to make way for the building, in case planning consent is given next week.

KB Boatpark has already started to make preparations to move, putting up a fence around its new boundaries.

Tim Anderson, one of the directors of KB Boatpark, says his company has put together a supportive leaflet to explain what is being proposed and what the firm is doing. Other businesses have already started to move from the site, Mr Anderson said.

‘We were approached by the council quickly about moving to make way for the building.

‘We think it is a fantastic opportunity for the city.

‘We needed to move before the planning application was decided on to allow BAR to start work on The Camber as soon as it can to meet the America’s Cup deadline.

‘If we didn’t move until a decision is made, it would take us a few weeks to move.’

Councillor Luke Stubbs has called an emergency meeting for cabinet members of the Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development committee. It was due to take place this afternoon.

Officers have recommended that the council give up the leasehold on the Camber Quay site and enter into a new agreement with Ben Ainslie Racing Ltd.

Meeting to decide fate of firms on land earmarked for Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing base

A special council meeting is to be held today to determine whether businesses on land where Sir Ben Ainslie wants to build a base for his America’s Cup team should leave and get compensation.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic redevelopment, will decide whether to approve the deal related to The Camber in Old Portsmouth at 4pm today.

It would then pave the way for the council to enter into a lease agreement with Ben Ainslie Racing, prior to a planning meeting being held next Wednesday to determine whether the plans for the base should definitely go ahead.

Meanwhile, Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, has confirmed that a public meeting where Sir Ben will make a presentation to residents about the proposed base will be happening at Portsmouth Cathedral at 7.30pm on Monday.

That meeting was due to happen at the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club, in Old Portsmouth, at the start of this week, but the event was cancelled due to the number of people who turned up to listen and give their views for and against them.