Funding cuts won't stop new homes, says council

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THE TEAM behind the regeneration of one of Portsmouth's most deprived areas has pledged the project will go ahead despite funding cuts.

Somers Town Regeneration team at Portsmouth City Council has reassured the city that the scheme's first phase, which includes new houses and a community hub, will be built.

It comes after the government withdrew funding support for phase two of the project, which included 733 new eco-friendly homes.

Team leader Launce Morgan said: 'What with the news about phase two, there has been some understandable concern that phase one won't happen.

'We want to let people know that it is going ahead, as planned, and all parts will be under way by March 2011.'

The area's regeneration was hit in November, when the government announced it would not go ahead with a promised 122m Private Finance Initiative deal. That cash had been promised by the previous government, for the second phase,.

The team is working on ways to bring in cash to deliver those houses despite the setback. Phase one, costing 16.1m, will see 29 new houses at Warwick Crescent and Wellington Street, as well as a community hub, containing a medical centre and youth facilities, built over Winston Churchill Avenue.

Mr Morgan said: 'Work has already started at Warwick Crescent, and the first brick of the foundations will be laid in January.

'At Wellington Street, the work on reducing the Winston Churchill Roundabout, to make way for the houses there, will start soon, and work on the actual houses will be underway by March 2011.

'The hub is also still going ahead and work will start on that, too, by March.'

Colas, Portsmouth City Council's roads contractor, has confirmed it will begin reducing the roundabout's size on January 10, and has warned the work, which will take place from 7.30am-5pm and include weekend works, will lead to reduced lanes 24 hours a day.

Bus services will be diverted via Winston Churchill Avenue eastbound to Bradford Junction and return.

Mr Morgan said: 'We know there's concern and frustration over this, and that some people have questioned whether we will ever see brick number one, but the work is happening and will continue as promised.'