Portsmouth tower site could house 1,000 students

Knightsbridge Student Housing development and acquisitions director Simon Pollitt, left, and McAleer & Rushe development director, Graham Mitchell, in front of the former Zurich building
Knightsbridge Student Housing development and acquisitions director Simon Pollitt, left, and McAleer & Rushe development director, Graham Mitchell, in front of the former Zurich building
The Village Hotel at Lakeside North Harbour, Cosham. Photo: Deborah Croker

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A RUN-DOWN and empty building that overshadows Portsmouth city centre could become home of 1,000 students as well as hotels and 150 private apartments.

Developers have put a plan together to turn the Zurich House site in Stanhope Road, which has been closed for around three years, into accommodation.

A consultation is being held on the plans today at Cascades Shopping Centre from 10.30am to 6pm.

Proposals include the conversion of the former office block to house around 400 students, a new build student block of around 600 beds next to it, and a range of hotels and around 150 private rented sector apartments, along with the creation of access to Victoria Park.

Planning applications will be submitted early next year, with the project expected to be complete by the summer of 2016.

Simon Pollitt, development and acquisitions director at Knightsbridge Student Housing, which has bought the building, said: ‘We are looking forward to discussing our plans for the regeneration of this important site.

‘It is an indication of our confidence in the economic future of Portsmouth that we are embarking on this major investment in the city.’

The company’s project, which includes a second site in Bournemouth, is valued at having an end-value of £100m.

Project development director Graham Mitchell, of construction company McAleer & Rushe, said: ‘This is a great opportunity for the public to meet the design and build team and help shape the delivery of a major mixed use regeneration scheme for the city.’

Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development at Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘More people living in the central area will mean better prospects for local retailers and concentrating the student population around the university will free up family housing elsewhere in the city.’

Zurich House was completed in 1973, with the company moving in during the 1980s. It was sold for £15m in late 2007, moving 600 jobs to Whiteley.