Derelict Portsmouth Kwik Save supermarket may not be right for compulsory purchase order
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Pursuing a compulsory purchase order for a derelict supermarket in North End could do more harm than good in trying to bring forward redevelopment of the city, senior city councillors have warned.
In response to Portsmouth City Council’s decision to pursue the forced purchase of the Southsea Debenhams building, there have been renewed calls to look at other long-standing empty buildings, including the Kwik Save unit in Stubbington Avenue.
But councillor Steve Pitt, the cabinet member for economic development, said the power could only be used as a last resort and in cases where proposals are further progressed.
The building has been owned by Southampton-based Denzil Properties since it bought the supermarket site for £730,000 in late 2002, according to Land Registry documents.
Several years ago the firm went through a pre-planning process with the city with the aim of converting the building into flats. However, a full planning application has yet to follow.
The site has been earmarked for redevelopment in the city’s local plan which says it is suitable for up to 30 flats.
It has been derelict for more than a decade, and has attracted large piles of fly-tipped rubbish. After piles of rubbish accumulated in the summer of 2021, with mattresses and even old underwear dumped on the site next to the footpath, the council issued the landowner with a notice in December to fence off the land, which it duly did.
Councillor Lee Hunt, the cabinet member for planning policy, welcomed the decision to use compulsory purchase orders elsewhere in the city, saying it ‘sends a signal’ to developers elsewhere but that it was not a universal tool.
‘For three years I’ve been talking about Kwik Save,’ the Nelson ward councillor said. ‘Officers have been over to Southampton and doorstepped the owner. They’ve done as much as they possibly can to push the developer along.
‘But [compulsory purchase] is not straightforward, for example with Kwik Save a pre-planning request was made and had we decided to CPO then it would have frustrated that.’
The city council’s cabinet approved the use of these powers for Debenhams when it met earlier this week, saying it had ‘lost patience’ with its owners Bankuwait Nominees Limited and Gravitas Holdings PCC Limited.
Cllr Pitt said he was worried a compulsory purchase order for the Kwik Save site would not be as effective and that more work needed to be done first.
‘The council can only use compulsory purchase orders as a last resort,’ he said. ‘We will get to that at some point with the owners of the Kwik Save building but that has never progressed as far as Debenhams has.
‘Planning permission was in place there and we were very close to buying the site and work could’ve started. We are not there yet with the Kwik Save site.’