Neighbours fail in bid to stop Portsmouth block of flats on building society site

FIGHT Residents of Thurbern Road led by Deborah Ralph, third from right, protest over plans to redevelop the former Cheltenham and Gloucester building.    Picture Ian Hargreaves (112670-3)
FIGHT Residents of Thurbern Road led by Deborah Ralph, third from right, protest over plans to redevelop the former Cheltenham and Gloucester building. Picture Ian Hargreaves (112670-3)

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NEIGHBOURS have failed in a bid to stop a former building society being converted into a block of flats.

Residents in Thurbern Road, North End, say they are appalled that Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee agreed to allow the development at 176 London Road.

NEW LOOK An artist's impression of the proposed flats

NEW LOOK An artist's impression of the proposed flats

PLC Architects submitted proposals to demolish the former Portsmouth Building Society building on the site to make way for the 38-apartment development.

Plans for 21 car parking spaces behind the site were also approved at the council’s planning meeting last month. But neighbours say that is not enough.

Cycling and waste-bin shelters will also be installed at the currently-derelict building.

Around 200 neighbours signed a petition to stop the development, but it wasn’t enough to sway the decision of the committee.

The campaigners say they are in favour of the site’s redevelopment.

But they believe the new building is too large and that limited parking will cause problems.

Deborah Ralph, 56, from Thurbern Road, said: ‘We weren’t against the site being redeveloped, but it’s the scale of the plans that’s been accepted.

‘It’s far too large and it’s going to seriously deprive us of sunlight.’

Angela Morgon, 57, who has lived on Thurbern Road for 28 years, said: ‘I’m really disappointed. North End is particularly crammed and we’re going to feel trapped in.’

Angela’s husband Mark, 56, said: ‘They’ve decided to create just 21 car parking spaces for residents in 38 flats.

‘That’s going to be a big problem for the area because existing spaces are going to be eaten up by new residents.’

Council planning officers advised councillors on the committee the development should be allowed to go ahead.

They said the apartments would be a good use of a derelict former office site.

Councillor Darron Phillips, chairman of the planning committee, said: ‘I voted in favour of the plans because the current site has been an eyesore for so many years.

‘The new building will be smaller, less imposing and will have a better look than what is already there.’

But Tory councillor Donna Jones, a planning committee member, said: ‘I voted against this development because there’s not enough parking on the road which is going to have a bad impact.

‘The building that’s there now isn’t something people want to keep up, so I think that was part of the reason it went through.’

Lauren Atkins, managing director of The Malins Group, the firm behind the development, said: ‘Residents are always concerned about a lack of parking in their own area; however there is very little parking anywhere in Portsmouth and it’s been deemed our scheme will not have significant impact.’