PLANS for flats behind a historic Southsea hotel would be in keeping with the area and should have been approved, a government planning inspector has said.
Permission for six flats and a coffee shop to be built on land behind the Grade II listed Portland Hotel in Kent Road was applied for last April.
After Portsmouth City Council turned it down, a second application was submitted for a four-storey block containing six flats and a healthcare clinic.
That was also refused and Portland Hotel Ltd lodged two appeals with the Planning Inspectorate.
The company, which had planned a £5m investment turning the old building into a boutique hotel creating 100 jobs, has criticised the council’s decisions, which it says the Planning Inspectorate has disagreed with in its report.
A spokesman for the owners said: ‘There is not one element of the inspector’s decision that suggests that the council had any valid reasons to reject the application.
‘The owners continue to be profoundly disappointed that the council failed to support an entirely acceptable proposal to bring much-needed jobs to Southsea.’
The company says it always made it clear that without the consent for the flats, the hotel refit could not go ahead.
The report, written by inspector David Smith, found that although the site is in Owen’s Southsea Conservation Area, the design is ‘in keeping’ with the area.
He concluded: ‘Both proposals would enhance the character and appearance of Owen’s Southsea Conservation Area and would preserve the setting of the adjoining listed buildings including Portland Terrace and Portland Hotel.
‘Overall these heritage assets would be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance.
‘The living conditions of nearby residential occupiers would not be harmed.
‘As a result the proposed developments would accord with the development plan and there are no other considerations which outweigh these findings.’
Councillor Les Stevens, deputy chairman of the council’s planning committee, which turned down the applications, said: ‘The decision does not surprise me in the least.
‘Local people don’t have any say when it comes to the Planning Inspectorate.’
It is not clear whether the company will have to make a fresh application.