THIS is a developer’s idea of how the Zurich House site in Portsmouth city centre could look in the future.
Yesterday, proposals for the disused building and its surroundings were put on show to the public for the first time.
Knightsbridge Student Housing has put together plans for almost 1,000 student bedrooms, a range of hotels, around 150 private rented sector apartments and the creation of a boulevard to Victoria Park for the Stanhope Road site opposite Portsmouth & Southsea train station.
Currently, the company is talking to hotel chains about the idea of one ‘budget’ hotel opening opposite the train station, and a dual hotel containing two different brands in a separate building at the opposite end of the site.
Graham Mitchell, senior development and asset manager from McAleer & Rushe Group is advising the developer on the site.
The company previously owned the site and had planning consent to turn the disused building into a three-star hotel. However, the economic crisis meant the plans fell through, according to Mr Mitchell.
He said: ‘There is nothing particularly new to the plans or layout – it is just the proposed use that has changed.
‘The student accommodation will be a mixture of clusters and studios. All of the rooms will be the same size and en suite.
‘We have given presentations to Portsmouth City Council and the Portsmouth Society and there is going to be a good amount of discussion before the application is submitted.’
Asked about the consultation that took place in the Cascades Shopping Centre yesterday, he said: ‘It has been quite positive. People are pleased to see this site is going to be used generally. They want to see what we are proposing and what we want to do with it.’
Mr Mitchell said a full planning application could be submitted to the city’s planning department before Christmas.
Christian Davis, director of development and acquisitions for Knightsbridge Student Housing, ‘It is going to bring some more life to this part of the city, especially if we can bring some restaurants and cafes to the boulevard area. It could be a catalyst for more investment in the area.’
If planning consent is granted, work on the building will begin straight away, with the refurbished Zurich House expected to be complete in summer 2006, a budget hotel ready for Christmas 2016 and the project complete in 2018.