A DEFIANT message was delivered at a packed public meeting last night: ‘Stop this development’.
Plans for up to 480 homes at St James’ Hospital and the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone campus were met with hostility by both residents and politicians at St James’ Church in Milton.
It comes as the NHS is proposing to redevelop the St James’ site in two phases with up to 370 homes, including the old hospital being converted into hundreds of new flats.
In the longer term, the Langstone Campus is earmarked for up to 110 homes as the university may want to eventually dispose of it. Playing fields on the campus, together with the Green and cricket pitch at St James’, would be protected.
Interest shown by the two landowners means the city council is having to consult until September 30 on its site allocations plan which determines potential sites for new homes and steers planning decisions at committee stage.
The area is already earmarked for up to 217 homes in an allocation plan from 2006 amended last year.
Conservative council leader Donna Jones said she had serious concerns about the development worsening the traffic congestion on Locksway Road, Milton Road, Velder Avenue and the Eastern Road. She said: ‘I am up for the fight.
‘I am really up for taking this on, in terms of environmental, the school places, the traffic.
‘If I have to spend money on this (on experts), I will do that.’
Cllr Jones said she would lobby government so that Portsmouth – the UK’s only island city – is treated as a special case when it comes to housing targets.
‘We should not have to take our share of housing targets – because we physically cannot cope,’ she said.
Nova O’Donovan, 80, of Riverhead Close, Milton, received huge applause when she said: ‘Why do you have to keep building?
‘We don’t want it, our children don’t want it.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem ward member, said: ‘Everybody here is opposed to this.’
The NHS needs to find a buyer for the site by the end of 2015 as it moves services to St Mary’s Hospital.
Claire Upton-Brown, city development manager, said: ‘The NHS have already confirmed that they intend to submit an outline application for phase one within the autumn.’