ANGRY residents have warned Portsmouth is at ‘breaking point’ after the city council paved the way for hundreds of new homes to be built in a congested area already troubled by traffic.
If the scheme goes ahead, people fear it will pile more strain on the road network and cause problems for an already-struggling sewer system.
They say further properties and cars plus the creation of the Tesco superstore at Fratton Park will cause the road network to grind to a halt.
Martin Lock, 52, of Catisfield Road, said: ‘The city is at breaking point; traffic is already awful.
‘Traffic down to the seafront is also going to get worse and I’m concerned about whether there is going to be enough parking for everyone.’
Janice Burkinshaw, chairwoman of Milton Neighbourhood Forum, pleaded with the cabinet not to allow the plans to move forward.
‘Only this week we saw a lorry fire cause gridlock in this city,’ she said.
‘This congestion can’t be good for existing businesses and when it comes to attracting new ones.
‘I’ve also heard our sewage system can’t cope, and now here we are proposing to cover open land with concrete.’
The cabinet insisted it was not in favour of more homes, but nothing would stop site landowner NHS Property Services Limited submitting planning applications for pockets of the land on behalf of a developer, regardless of whether there was a consultation or not.
The company is to make an application for part of the site in the coming months and unless there is substantial evidence proving it would be unsustainable, then it will go through, or be won on appeal.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, criticised the previous Lib Dem administration for not coming up with a masterplan when in power that could have challenged the proposals, which is to turn two vacant buildings, a children’s centre and the site of The Harbour School into homes.
But she said the consultation needed approving to give a council a slim chance of showing the applicants the level of opposition out there to more building, and provide time for traffic and health impact surveys.
‘We are in a very, very weak position,’ Cllr Jones said.
‘If we say no to this and if a planning application comes in and we say no without there being strong evidence, then it will go to a public inquiry and could cost taxpayers £100,000 should we lose.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, suggested the council could make better use of the site by buying part of it for £4m.
He said that could be raised through developer contributions from the Tesco development and £2.5m would be saved if The Harbour School was kept.
But chief finance officer Chris Ward said none of that money had been guaranteed yet so cash to buy the land would have to be borrowed, so the idea was dismissed.