PLANNING permission has been granted for a multi-million pound community hub to form the final stage in the regeneration of Somers Town.
The distinctive £12m building – which will have an upper floor spanning Winston Churchill Avenue – is set to house a health centre and dental service, a housing advice centre and a cafe.
It will also contain a community centre to replace Southsea community centre, and a youth centre to replace the Brook Club on Sackville Street.
The radical, tubular design of the building did not impress every member of Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee, but a majority voted to back the project at a meeting yesterday.
Concerns were also raised over the proposed development’s close distance to the nearby Ladywood House tower block, but the council’s head of housing, Lib Dem councillor Steven Wylie, said it had the support of a large number of residents.
‘In a way we have almost over-consulted on this project,’ he said. ‘And the consultation showed one in three residents in these blocks approves of the plans.
‘It is not only brave but an innovative way of using the space that is so scarce in Portsmouth and especially in this area.’
A resident of the nearby Edgbaston House, Maria Cole, 67, also said she was in favour of the proposals and believed most other local people were as well.
‘At last something good is happening,’ she said. ‘People are excited about the building of the hub.
‘I simply can’t wait for the door to open for a bright new future for Somers Town.’
But Conservative finance boss, Cllr Donna Jones, said the building was unsuitable for the area and looked like a ‘spaceship’ that had landed on the road.
She said: ‘I think it is unsympathetic to the local area and eats into the limited public space they have in Somers Town.
‘I believe these much-needed new facilities can be provided without having this building, which looks more like a piece of modern art.’
The council’s regeneration team hopes work on the 4,488sq m building will be able to start in May next year and finish by December 2013.