After six years of planning, the £100m proposal to transform Trafalgar Wharf is finally set to go before councillors for a decision.
Developer Quadant Estates wants to create a 1,762sq m site for marine industry, as well as a 164-home estate, on the site of the former Vosper Thornycroft shipyard.
The company says that the plan will not only breathe fresh life into the area by bringing hundreds of new jobs and regenerating the brownfield site, it will also protect hundreds of houses through its £3.1m investment into upgraded flood defences.
On the edge of Portchester, opposite Port Solent, the land’s position means it falls to Portsmouth City Council to make a decision.
The 22-acre site was bought by Amazon Investments, advised by Quadrant Estates, in September 2008.
Since then, the development plans have been through public consultations, and more than 1,000 residents and businesses have been consulted.
A previous application, submitted in October 2012 was withdrawn so objections could be overcome.
Now the plans have been polished and are expected to go to the planning committee in February.
Managing director of Quadrant Estates Christopher Daniel, pictured right, explains that the development would not just mean new jobs and housing, it will bring a major upgrade to the area’s flood defences.
Mr Daniels says: ‘In order to attract high-quality employment occupiers to this area, it needs to be regenerated and they need to be offered new high-quality buildings.
‘The only way we are going to do this is by putting in flood defences. This area is particularly prone to flooding due to sea level rise and tidal surge.
‘The Environment Agency projects that there is a risk of flooding to this area, the trading estate and approximately 400 houses.
‘You are never going to get anybody investing or developing new premises in this area if they know they are going to be flooded.
‘So we’ve agreed with the Environment Agency to pay them £3.1m and they will put in the flood defences.
‘We understand from them that this will be the first in this region, and possibly the biggest one to date nationally due to its length, amount of money and amount of houses protected.’
The proposed flood defences will go from Portchester Castle along to Port Solent, protecting the proposed site and around 400 existing homes.
Mr Daniel adds: ‘For us to promote Trafalgar Wharf as a long-time viable marine-related employment site, we have to put in the defences to offer hi-tech modern premises. The only way we can offer these is by putting in the defences, which can only be afforded by putting in the housing.’
As well as the marine-related industry space, which is predicted to create around 600 new jobs, the company wants to build 164 homes, made up of 98 three and four-bedroom houses, with the remainder being two and three-bedroom flats.
One of the main objections to the original application was the height of a 12-storey block of flats.
Quadrant Estates reduced the height of this building to 10-storeys, losing eight flats, but say that losing any more floors would affect the viability of the whole development.
The current boat shed, which would be demolished, is 9.6m shorter than this proposed block.
The block is set to be curved, looking out to sea, and the 47 apartments would have excellent views.
Mr Daniel explains: ‘Those flats are the most valuable in the whole development, it’s as simple as that. Any less than 10 floors, it’s not viable.
‘Residents in this area need to weigh up if they want to gamble and wait for the lottery of the government paying out for flood defences, which in this economic environment is unlikely, or to support a development like ours which will pay for them and regenerate the whole area.’
Another four-storey block of 23 flats is proposed for the entrance to the site, on Hamilton Road at the junction of Southampton Road, which could contain the site’s element of affordable housing.
With an estimated 389 new residents moving on to the estate when built, it will contribute 22 per cent of Portsmouth City Council’s annual housing target.
Quadrant Estates would also need to give around £1m to the council as part of a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which would go towards specific infrastructure projects that the council would identify.
‘In short, we will bring over £4m to the local area,’ says Mr Daniel.
As objections were raised to the previous proposals for shops and restaurants, these have been removed.
To allay safety fears of an entrance on Southampton Road, the entrance to the site would be off Hamilton Road.
The site will also contain 310 residential car parking spaces and 279 commercial spaces.
The company estimates that during the site’s five-year development, around 105 construction workers will be employed per year.
‘We are priming a regeneration of the whole area,’ says Mr Daniel.
‘We are enabling 400 residents of existing homes to be able to sleep well at night, knowing they are not going to be flooded, and it will all be funded through this project.
‘Companies want to be in an area that looks great, they don’t want their investors to go through tatty industrial estates or run-down residential streets, they want somewhere that will impress potential investors.’
If the application is given the green light on February 26, the company hope to have started work within six months and it could be completed by 2019.
To view the application go to the city council’s planning portal, ref 13/00993/OUT.
SEVERAL objections have been raised about Quadrant Estates’ revised application.
On the Portsmouth City Council’s planning portal, 17 comments have been left — 14 against, two in support and one neutral.
Comments have been made by Fareham Labour Party, the Fareham Society and Portchester Civic Society.
Chairwoman of Portchester Civic Society, Hazel Woodman, says: ‘In principal the society is in favour of this application but our objections are in the details, principally the inclusion of a 10-storey high building. This structure has no place in the residential development of the site, as the surrounding properties are generally two-storey.’
The society fears this building will overshadow the area and compromise views of Portchester Castle.
Richard Massey, from English Heritage, says: ‘English Heritage has concerns over the proposed vertical scale of the tallest structure, which has potential to result in substantial harm to the setting and significance of Portchester Castle.’
Quadrant Estates MD Christopher Daniel says: ‘On the previous application, English Heritage did not have any problems with the taller building, which is bizarre. Our map addresses the concerns in terms of the views of Portchester Castle being obstructed. From most angles you cannot even see our site.’
KEEN FOR CHANGE
ONE business is particularly keen to see the plan get the green light.
Magma, which manufactures hi-tech pipes for the oil and gas industry from its Portchester site, already has planning permission to expand at Trafalgar Wharf, and is hoping the whole area will be revamped to boost its company’s image.
CEO Martin Jones started the company three years ago and now employs 150 staff.
Mr Jones says: ‘We are working to become a world-class manufacturing facility for sub-sea and offshore pipe production.
‘To be honest, this surrounding area looks a bit tatty. From our point of view, this proposal fits nicely with what we are doing.
‘A lot of our clients are multinational oil and gas companies, Exxon, Shell and Total.
‘We would like to see this whole area lifted up in terms of look and feel so it is more of a flagship than what, quite frankly, currently looks like a bit of a backyard.
‘We want this to be our UK headquarters; 100 per cent of our income is through export, so for us to have a flagship site here is extremely important. Our interest is twofold — in terms of flood defences and our whole image.’