'˜Prime land along Southsea seafront shouldn't have been wasted'
A DEAL for a supermarket to move into prime land on Portsmouth's seafront has been criticised.
McCarthy & Stone has agreed a deal for The Co-op to open a store on the ground floor of its retirement home development on the former Savoy buildings site opposite South Parade Pier.
It comes after the Southern Co-operative – a separate company – pulled out of a plan to move into the space.
But residents say they should have been consulted over how the site is used and that it shouldn’t be ‘wasted on a supermarket’.
People’s Plan for Southsea online campaign group leader Nick Courtney – and spokesman for the South Parade Pier owners – said: ‘McCarthy & Stone should have consulted the people of Portsmouth with regards to what it wants in that space.
‘It’s one of the most prime pieces of land we have still available.
‘To waste it on a supermarket, or on something that doesn’t benefit the community, would be a complete waste, especially against a reinvigorated pier.
‘We need something that will be complementary to the area.’
Mr Courtney believes the ground floor could be a mix of ‘small cafes, gift shops and independent traders’, but believes a restaurant or clubs that have existed there in years gone by as part of the former Savoy entertainment complex would never get the go-ahead from local residents or Portsmouth City Council’s licensing officials.
Others have dismissed the need for consultation.
Leon Reis, chairman of East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, said: ‘Public consultation would be a wonderful thing. But it may not be commercially realistic. The landowner would want to maximise its return.
‘There is planning permission for a shop, and I suspect it’s not something McCarthy & Stone would want to relinquish.’
Tory ward councillor Luke Stubbs said it wasn’t a matter for the council get involved in as it’s not the landowner.
He said: ‘There has been talk for a while about a supermarket for that area.
‘It would be nice to have something beneficial that reflects the tourist nature of the locality, but there’s no point in the council consulting over that, because it’s not the council’s decision.’
Craig Brownsell, a spokesman for The Co-op, said: ‘The Co-op has exchanged contracts to open a new food store in a retirement home development on South Parade in Southsea. The new store is expected to open towards the end of 2017 following a significant investment, and will create 15 new jobs.
‘The new store will have an in-store bakery and a focus on fresh, healthy foods, meal ideas, hot food and essentials, as well as an ATM.’
The former Savoy site – which used to be owned by ex-Pompey boss Harry Redknapp – was sold to McCarthy & Stone in 2015.
The development firm was given the green light by the UK planning inspectorate to build 66 retirement flats, despite a campaign to stop the redevelopment going ahead.
Tory councillors for Portsmouth City Council also said the site should have been given special protection and set aside for the creation of a five-star hotel and restaurants.