Fate of Southsea's former John Lewis store Knight and Lee to be decided next week

THE fate of a beloved Southsea building will be decided next week as plans to transform the former John Lewis store into a multi-million pound development will be considered.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 6:10 pm

Portsmouth councillors will debate plans for cinema screens, a coffee bar, shops and 43-bed hotel at the disused Knight & Lee building in Palmerston Road at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday, December 4.

Designs were shown to the public during an exhibition that ran in February this year.

The proposals, submitted by developers That Group, have garnered six responses from residents, including three objections which were mainly concerned about parking for the hotel.

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Knight & Lee at Palmerston Rd, Portsmouth, Southsea pictured in January 2019. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Anne Leach, of nearby Richmond Road, said: I notice the planning application includes a 43-bed hotel.

'Parking in KC West is a problem, as there are fewer resident spaces that permits issued, so where are all the guests going to park?'

However, Steven Baxter, who lives in Duncan Road, said: 'I wholeheartedly support this application.

'The proposal appears to make very good use of a well-loved building, retaining many of its features whilst delivering an interesting mixed-use offering that, in my opinion, will enhance both the precinct and the wider Southsea area.'

In the report to be considered by members of the committee next week a highways engineer ruled there would be 'adequate on street parking opportunities within a reasonable walking distance of the site to accommodate the anticipated parking accumulation.'

If approved the project would include excavation work in the building’s basement. Most of the third floor’s structure would be demolished and rebuilt with a one-storey extension.

It would include shared offices, rooftop bar and terrace and rooms for events.

Peter Tisdale, chief executive at That Group, said: 'We are very encouraged by the support and positive feedback we have received to date from the local community about our plans, which will deliver major new investment to this part of the town centre and ensure this landmark building continues to positively contribute to the vitality of Southsea's town centre.

'Our project team has been working very hard over the last few months to progress our regeneration plans, which will deliver and exciting and varied mix of new uses, creating a destination for local people to work, shop, sleep, meet, eat and drink.'

John Lewis closed its doors in July.