Plan to bring £1billion of investment to Portsmouth given green light

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A strategy to bring in £1billion of investment to Portsmouth has received a double boost.

A government inspector approved two big parts of Portsmouth City Council’s vision for more housing, jobs and transport improvements.

The Portsmouth Plan - the council’s blueprint for development up to 2027 - got official approval. This means developers now have more certainty on council planning policy and can accelerate work on major schemes.

Also approved was the council’s plan for a levy on new building projects, designed to help pay for new transport schemes, flood defences, green spaces and community facilities.

The Portsmouth Plan, drawn up after consulting residents, sets out the planning blueprint for the city for the next 15 years. It includes policies on:

· major sites at Port Solent, Horsea Island, Tipner, Fratton Park and the city centre.

· the amount of housing, employment and shopping development and the infrastructure needed to support it.

· dealing with flood risk.

· sustainable transport, environmental protection and good design.

The new levy on development was brought in nationally in 2010, and the council has now had approval for its operation locally. Portsmouth is only the fourth council in the country to get a CIL system approved by an inspector.

Called the community infrastructure levy (CIL), it sets out exactly how much developers will pay towards infrastructure. The levy is based on floorspace, and is designed to largely replace the ‘section 106’ system, under which the council had to negotiate with developers to get infrastructure contributions.

For example, under the CIL system, a developer building a new housing estate will have to pay a set amount per square metre of new floor space towards building infrastructure such as flood defences or a road.

The CIL system could start in Portsmouth from April. It is expected to bring in more funds for infrastructure schemes than the previous system.

The levy will apply to most types of new development, other than office and industrial development and community facilities.

Councillor Mike Hancock, the council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: ‘Approval of these two key parts of our planning strategy is a big boost to the regeneration of the city.

‘Developers wanting planning permission now know exactly what we expect of them, because it’s laid out in the Portsmouth Plan. They can see how we want the city to look in the future and plan accordingly.

‘The CIL is an open, matter-of-fact way of raising money from developers, ensuring the community benefits when new building projects take place. It will help us pay for infrastructure like the new junction off the M275 at Tipner, which we need to kick-start regeneration.’

Councillors are expected to give their formal go-ahead to the Portsmouth Plan and the CIL scheme, probably next month.