Harry seeks to move goalposts in housing plan

081831_75_G_TRAINING_GROUND_SR_22/4/08'Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.''PICTURE:STEVE REID(081831-75)

081831_75_G_TRAINING_GROUND_SR_22/4/08'Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.''PICTURE:STEVE REID(081831-75)

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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HARRY Redknapp has held crisis talks with Portsmouth City Council over stalled plans for developing his empty seafront site.

The former Pompey manager has gone to the council asking to sidestep rules on affordable housing rule, saying he may not be able to develop the former Savoy Buildings otherwise.

Mr Redknapp owns the site and has planning permission to turn the buildings into flats.

One of the conditions of the permission was that 30 per cent of the development had to be affordable housing for people on lower incomes.

Mr Redknapp met the authority’s assistant head of planning Claire Upton-Brown, its strategic director for regeneration, Kathy Wadsworth, and its leader for economic development, Cllr Mike Hancock.

Ms Upton-Brown said: ‘It was to discuss an application to vary the agreement that requires the provision of 30 per cent affordable housing on site.’

Mr Redknapp bought the Savoy Buildings, built in 1929, at the peak of the property boom in 2007. Their most recent use had been as Time and Envy nightclub, which was shut in 2006.

Mr Redknapp won permission to build 92 apartments on the site, but as the recession hit, the plans faltered.

As with all new housing developments in Portsmouth, the city council built into the plans a requirement that 30 per cent of the apartments must be affordable housing. Councillors may end the rules to see work go ahead.

Eastney and Craneswater councillor Luke Stubbs said: ‘We need affordable housing, but if the only way to get work done here is to allow that not to happen, I’m afraid we’ll have to do that.’

And Cllr Donna Jones, who is campaigning for the council’s rules on affordable housing to be more stringently applied, said: ‘We have a desperate need for affordable housing. But this is a strategic point in the city. We have to make an exception.’

Mr Redknapp declined to talk to The News, but his representative Jason Parker, managing director of Southsea’s Bernards estate agents, said: ‘The situation has changed a great deal since the site was bought, and the affordable housing requirement can’t be delivered on this site in a way that would make the development financially viable.’

The scheme will be decided by the council’s planning committee on June 22.

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