Compromise needed to get this site developed

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Many people will be sad to see the burnt-out former Joanna’s nightclub on Southsea seafront being demolished. E-mails, letters and messages on our website clearly show the affection that still exists for this landmark, even though it closed a good few years ago.

People recall enjoying nights out there and seeing it in flames and then reduced to rubble is an unfortunate end for the building.

Of course, it had to come down. Not only for reasons of safety, but because it is in nobody’s interests to have a blackened shell causing an eyesore in such a prominent location.

The question now is what to do with the site, which is owned by former Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.

He bought it along with the adjacent Savoy Buildings site and announced plans for redevelopment that would include shops and luxury homes. But the plans were put on hold following the financial crash in 2008, leaving the building to sit empty.

In the meantime there has been much toing and froing with the city council as Mr Redknapp’s firm Pierfront Developments has tried to avoid building affordable homes as part of any proposed development.

It has even offered the council £400,000 to be allowed not to include low-cost housing, but permission was refused.

So we are left with something of an impasse that has resulted in the building remaining derelict – increasing the risk of of accidental or deliberate damage, according to both council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Conservative group finance chief Cllr Donna Jones.

As a result that part of the seafront is scarred. Even if hoardings are erected, it will still give the impression that the area is run-down

We think the council must find a way forward in its dealings with Mr Redknapp. Is there a compromise that can be reached? Certainly, all avenues should be explored.

We need a development Portsmouth can be proud of, rather than an empty site that speaks only of decay.