Concerns over bid for 14 flats at site of Masonic Hall

Portsmouth council leader condemns Barcelona attack

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RESIDENTS have mixed views over plans to demolish part of the Masonic Hall in Gosport to make way for new homes.

Plans have been submitted to Gosport Borough Council to knock down the back meeting rooms of the hall in Clarence Road.

Bosses hope building 14 self-contained flats in their place will fund work to the 19th century hall, which was bought by the masons in 1918.

But Town ward councillor Diane Searle told The News she has concerns.

She said: ‘It’s a bit overcrowded as it is.

‘They seem to want to build on every bit of land.

‘I don’t like the idea personally. I don’t understand why they want to cram in 14 flats.’

If the plans are approved, the front door of the four-storey block would be on King Street.

There would be seven parking spaces in an undercroft at the bottom of the building.

Windows would look out over King Street, while there would be a blank side facing St Matthew’s Court.

The fourth floor would be recessed.

Planners hope this will ‘enliven’ the road, which is currently seen as an access road.

Members of the Masonic Hall would instead hold their meetings in the space in the existing roof.

Clifford Greatrex, 87, of St Matthew’s Court, said he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the planned development.

He said: ‘I’m just away from it so it won’t affect me.

‘But I’m absolutely flabbergasted they’re going to knock half the Masonic down.

‘I don’t know if they’re short of money or what.’

Neighbour Yvonne Goodwin, 73, said she had no problem with the plans but hopes any builders will be considerate in the area.

She said: ‘I don’t mind.

‘We had Rope Quays opposite put up.

‘I just hope they’re not going to use King Street for the cafeteria again. They used to make a right mess.

‘I’ve got no objections, this used to be a very busy part of Gosport going way back.’

Work to the hall will include restoring it to its original c.1800 form, including replacing windows, stone banding and the name plate.

The hall is next to a conservation area, but is not on the council’s local list or listed.

A decision on the outline planning application is due in February next year.