Harry gets support over Savoy buildings site

OWNER Harry Redknapp
OWNER Harry Redknapp
Portsmouth Port. Photo by Chris Pearsall

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HARRY Redknapp has received support after Portsmouth City Council backed his bid to ditch cheap homes at a Southsea development.

The council’s planning committee voted four to two to allow the ex-Pompey boss’ firm, Pierfront Developments, to build 91 flats at the Savoy Buildings site in South Parade on the seafront.

The Southsea Association’s chairman John Ling said he supported the move.

‘It’s a shame about the affordable housing but it’s the council’s decision,’ he said. ‘We want quick action to build something which improves the sea-front. We want this site, which has been empty for years, to be developed.’

The original agreement between Pierfront and the council said 28 of the 91 flats would be affordable homes, in line with the council’s development rules.

But the firm will instead hand over £600,000 for the homes to be built elsewhere in the city.

The council’s leader for housing Cllr Steven Wylie believes the cash will pay for just eight houses, a loss to the city of 20.

Eastney and Craneswater councillor Terry Hall said: ‘These are seafront flats and there’s much more value to be had from this deal. We have £600,000, but that’s not enough. We should have tried to get more money.’

Pierfront asked in June to build no affordable homes – properties which would be sold cheaply by social housing providers – and make no contribution.

This was turned down by the council’s planning committee. In July, Pierfront made an offer of £400,000. Hours before Wednesday’s meeting, it raised that amount to £600,000.

The cash, along with evidence suggesting Pierfront would make less than 23 per cent profit on the site, led the planning committee decide to waive the affordable housing requirement.

Bob Mullins, who rents a house on Eastney’s Seaview Estate, after being turned down by the council for a house, said: ‘The money’s not enough to build with. The city desperately needs homes, yet a multi-millionaire who gambled on house prices and lost is getting away with it. If I lost a bet, I wouldn’t be bailed out by council taxpayers, so why is he?’

Peter Tanner, managing director of Tanner & Tilley, which is representing Pierfront, said that the extra £200,000 had been paid not from the firm, but from one of its directors’ personal accounts. He added: ‘We will do a deal with a developer as soon as possible, and get the work done. This is about cutting losses for Pierfront.’

Demolition workers were last night pulling down fire-ravaged remains of the former Joanna’s nightclub.

Workers are expected to finish removing what is left of the derelict building in Southsea this weekend.

An exclusion zone was last night still in place around the site and part of South Parade Pier was shut.

Meanwhile detectives probing the blaze, which happened shortly before 6pm on August 9, have issued a fresh appeal for witnesses.

A sign with the headline ‘Arson’ has been put up at the scene, urging anyone with information to get in touch.

As reported in The News, a 17-year-old local boy was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire last Saturday, but later released without charge.

Call Portsmouth CID on 023 9289 1783 quoting Operation Thaxted.