Councillors approve plans for Fratton tower to become student accommodation

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A RUN-down eight-storey building will be turned into student accommodation, councillors have agreed.

Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee unanimously agreed plans to turn the Venture Tower, in Fratton, into a 97-bedroom student residence.

This is an encouraging application and would have a big impact on the economy and vitality of Fratton shopping area.

Councillor Lee Hunt

The building is mainly empty with some offices on the lower floors and shops on the ground floor.

Councillors welcomed proposals to put it back into full use and to redesign it with metal window frames and grey brickwork.

Planning committee member Councillor Lee Hunt welcomed the proposal.

He said: ‘This is an encouraging application and would have a big impact on the economy and vitality of Fratton shopping area. I am really pleased with it.’

During the meeting, questions were asked about ventilation of the student rooms, the building having one lift and the use of a roof terrace late into the night causing noise problems for nearby residents.

But overall councillors were happy to support it although Councillor Luke Stubbs did say he would rather see student accommodation in the city centre.

‘I think this is a very positive application,’ he said.

‘Venture Tower is a contender for the ugliest building in Portsmouth and a proposed re-cladding and refurbishment will visually improve it.

‘Personally if we had the option, I would like to have student accommodation in the city centre but we need to recognise what’s viable.

‘While I would prefer residents in that space, I think students is an acceptable use.’

As part of the plans, the building, in Fratton Road, will have a mix of studio rooms and twin studio rooms with communal kitchens and lounges.

There will be a gym and laundry facilities as well as bike storage and a link 
corridor leading to a roof terrace.

James Simpson, speaking on behalf of the application at the planning 
committee meeting, held on Wednesday, said they wanted to create dynamic living space.

He added: ‘Our client who has owned the building for a number of years wants to make it into a dynamic and vibrant living space.

‘This project is an excellent opportunity socially, 
economically and architecturally.’

A spokesman for rdjw Architects, which is behind the project, said: ‘We are delighted to be involved in this exciting regeneration project for the city.’