QinetiQ withdraws its plans for controversial beachfront apartments

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

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PLANS for 131 apartments next to a nudist beach have been withdrawn, almost six years after permission was given for the development.

QinetiQ had hoped to build the flats on land next to Fraser Beach, Eastney, a popular spot for naturists.

Portsmouth City Council had given permission, subject to conditions regarding road alterations to Fort Cumberland Road and a new road on to the site, as well as sea defence maintenance.

But agreement on the conditions was not reached until last year, by which point further complications, including the need for a new environmental assessment at the site, had arisen.

Despite independent environmental officers calling for the report in 2007, it has still not been carried out.

As a result, the council’s planning committee was set to meet yesterday, to decide whether to reject the original application, as no work had begun.

It was expected to decide changes to council planning policy, including new rules on affordable housing, and on the height of buildings, meant the application was unacceptable.

But instead QinetiQ, a private firm which inherited the land from the MoD, has withdrawn its application at the last minute.

The firm has previously told The News the changing economic situation has led it to start to reconsider its plans for the flats.

Its representatives yesterday failed to comment on the decision to withdraw the application.