PLANS for a state-of-the-art health and residential complex have been given the green light – despite concerns over its design and potential impact on the environment.
Councillors approved First Wessex’s desire to redevelop the former Southdown bus depot, in Hilsea, Portsmouth, at a public planning meeting yesterday.
The housing firm will now arrange to demolish the imposing structure next on London Road and replace it with a six-storey building with 59 flats and a doctor’s surgery.
There will also be a separate single-storey pharmacy with space for car parking, recycling and bike storage.
The planning team gave the project the thumbs-up because it would finally get rid of an eyesore and make way for much-needed housing. But nearby residents said the scale of it could affect wildlife at Hilsea Lines.
Addressing councillors, Sharon Wain, of Rampart Gardens, said: ‘A thorough ecological survey needs to be carried out at Hilsea Lines to see whether this is going to affect creatures and insects living there.’
Rampart Gardens resident Aimee Bridgeman, 32, said plans for 75 parking spaces weren’t good enough.
‘Most people living in flats have more than one car now,’ she said.
‘The developers haven’t taken into account where staff other than doctors will park.’
Councillor John Ferrett, who is the city’s Labour group leader, said: ‘There are clear pluses to this in terms of its temporary economic impact and in terms of making much-needed social housing for which we all know there is a crying need. I’m not sure about arguments about parking. The issue is the height of the development and that is clear by the deputations made.’
Councillors considered deferring their decision so First Wessex could come back with amended designs, but the housing body said it had already carried out thorough research and couldn’t do any more.
First Wessex representatives also said rejection of the proposal would mean they would lose the £500,000 awarded by Homes and Communities Agency to demolish the site.
The depot, next to The News Centre, has existed since the 1930s.