A FINAL decision will be made tomorrow over plans to advertise land as a prime location for hundreds of new homes.
The bid to earmark the site of St James’ Hospital, in Milton, for 435 family homes has sparked uproar.
The Tory administration argues nothing can be done to stop developers building there given the previous council provisionally agreed in 2006 to properties going in.
While the Lib Dems limited the number of houses being built to 217, the new council says the site’s land owner NHS Property Services believes more could go there now.
As reported, the Tory cabinet was originally due to make a decision last month, but put it off so more time could be spent assessing whether fewer properties could be put in.
Residents are concerned the move would make traffic problems worse.
But Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, said her ‘hands are tied’ since nothing can be done to stop the land being marketed to builders.
‘I have gone away and sought expert legal advice both in terms of planning and about the infrastructure of the development,’ she said.
‘And I am disappointed, because the previous administration failed to protect the St James’ Milton site as protected open land in our local development framework.’
Cllr Jones said it is late to put the land in the document – containing the city’s planning policies – as it would need to go out for consultation and take up to four months.
‘I have been leader of the council for eight and a half weeks – my hands are tied – particularly as this issue was only brought to my attention five and a half weeks ago,’ she said. The council is also considering whether green fields at the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus should be offered to developers. Milton councillor and Lib Dem group leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the council should not give in to developers’ demands.
‘There were two small corners of St James’ Hospital where we put some numbers of houses on,’ he said.
‘But we didn’t put houses on 90 per cent of St James’.
‘The government tells councils they have to have enough land for developers for the next five years.
‘Portsmouth has already hit the target. So the council has the ability to say no.’
The plans will go before the cabinet at a meeting starting at 1pm.