‘A SECOND-rate plan’ is how a developer’s proposals for the city’s Northern Quarter have been described by a senior member of Portsmouth City Council.
Councillor Donna Jones, the leader of the authority’s Conservative group, told The News she has ‘no confidence’ in the project for a new retail and leisure complex put forward by developer Centros.
As revealed in The News yesterday, a fresh £300m plan has been put in place to redevelop the former Tricorn Centre area by the end of 2018 with new shops and hundreds of homes.
But Cllr Jones has slammed the proposals.
‘I have got no confidence in it at all,’ she said.
‘We were supposed to be having a first-class project, 200 stores with Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. That is not happening. It is going to be lots smaller. They are now including a lot more residential housing than we wanted.
‘They are saying it is not financially viable without the housing. They are reducing this scheme right the way down. If they had come here five years ago with the scheme they have launched, we would not have given them the contract.
‘I appreciate things have changed in the last five years, but the shopping centre they are planning for us will not be in competition with Southampton.
‘The shopping centre that they are proposing will be a second-rate scheme. It will not be any match for WestQuay. We need to be the number-one destination. That is where I believe that the current administration have been letting us down. We are not second best.’
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, rebutted Cllr Jones’ comments, saying: ‘If a private sector developer is going to build, they will only build what is profitable. I want to see more jobs and more shops in Portsmouth.’
The council’s Labour group leader, Cllr John Ferrett, added: ‘If we are talking about more housing development, we would want to see affordable housing.’
Sceptical Milton resident Mark Dewing said he has ‘no faith’ the development will be completed.
‘The Northern Quarter is much needed, not only for the jobs but also because that end of Commercial Road has become an eyesore as well,’ he said.
‘Drive into Pompey from the M275 and the whole area of Market Way needs to be rebuilt. Pompey needs a hotel and big department store.’
Centros was unavailable to comment yesterday when contacted by The News.