McCarthy & Stone wins appeal to build retirement flats along Southsea seafront | Campaigners say decision by UK planning inspectorate is ‘atrocious’ and system needs a overhaul
McCarthy & Stone has been given the green light by the UK planning inspectorate to redevelop the site of the former Savoy buildings.
Portsmouth City Council had rejected the plans to build flats with a ground floor Co-op store – but the developer appealed and has won its case.
And campaigners have voiced their disapproval, saying there needs to be a drastic overhaul of the planning system.
Lib Dem ward councillor Matthew Winnington said: ‘It’s really disappointing that once again, the remote, unelected planning inspectorate overturned a decision made by a democratically-elected committee.
‘We have been fighting for planning responsibility for Portsmouth, and Portsmouth alone.’
It’s really disappointing that once again, the remote, unelected planning inspectorate overturned a decision made by a democratically elected committee.Lib Dem councillor Matthew Winnington
In his report, planning inspector Neil Pope says: ‘The government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment.
‘Whilst there is much local opposition to the proposals there is also some support.’
He adds the proposals would be ‘well designed’ and ‘respectful’ of the area’s character, and the development would ‘repair the urban grain and secure the removal of a detracting element in the street scene of Clarendon Road.’
But he warned part of the design could harm the ‘setting’ of 38-42 South Parade, a listed building.
The decision means the deal to transfer ownership of the land from former Pompey manager Harry Redknapp to McCarthy & Stone is complete.
Nick Courtney, of The People’s Plan for Southsea, was furious at the outcome.
‘It’s predictable, but also pretty disgusting,’ he said. ‘It’s atrocious. There were massive concerns about this. It’s prime tourist land, it’s totally inappropriate to have a supermarket opposite a newly refurbished Victorian pier. It would be better suited for a beach in Marbella.’
But Mr Pope concluded: ‘I do not set aside lightly the concerns of residents or their elected representatives.
‘However, when the evidence is considered dispassionately and the extensive benefits of the appeal scheme are also weighed in the balance there is a compelling case for granting permission.’