£500m plan for city's gateway

Ambitious plans to transform Portsmouth's worst eyesore into a stunning £500m gateway to the city have been revealed.

Planners have unveiled a masterplan for around 45 acres of land at Tipner, which has been neglected for decades.

Under the scheme, which councillors saw for the first time at a meeting yesterday, 1,600 new homes will be built on the site. There will also be business, community and leisure buildings and a new waterfront area to include pubs and bars.

Council leaders have been debating what to do with the Tipner site for more than 20 years but this is the first time a comprehensive plan has been put together.

Planners are confident they can overcome one of the major sticking points – decontamination of the land, which contains asbestos and potentially dangerous chemicals from years of use as a dumping ground.

The area of development will straddle the M275, include a park-and-ride scheme and could include a bus link to the new Pompey stadium if it is built at Horsea Island.

The main architect, Hyland Edgar Driver was involved in designing Gunwharf Quays and the London Olympic 2012 stadium.

After a presentation yesterday by the Tipner Regeneration Company – the group that will drive the scheme – senior city councillors agreed to schedule eight weeks of public consultation.

The project, which has cost Portsmouth City Council around 400,000 so far, will be bankrolled mostly by developers hungry to build the homes.

The South East of England Regional Development Agency will help attract funding from private firms,

Members of Portsmouth City Council's executive committee gave a cautious welcome to the plans.

Independent ward councillor Leo Madden said: 'The views of residents in Stamshaw and Tipner are paramount. And I want the number of affordable homes to be set in stone.'

His ward colleague for Nelson, Jason Fazackarley, said: 'People are very cynical. They need to know the consultation is not a done deal and is actually going somewhere. Residents have been subject to a number of reports, meetings, and consultations but nothing ever transpired.'

Fratton councillor Mike Hancock, the Lib Dem in charge of economic regeneration, said: 'Tipner has had as many false starts as Frank Sinatra's farewell concerts.

'But now I think we've reached a major breakthrough.

'This is the maximum number of properties they can build – no-one should be under the impression they can come back later and ask to build more.'

A date will be set for consultation to begin. That takes place over eight weeks and should finish by March.

An outline planning application is expected in September.

Issues over the ownership of land need to be resolved – but for the first time, planners believe deals for up to 80 per cent of the land are already sewn up.

An alternative site for Portsmouth Greyhound Stadium must be found – it is for sale but the owners won't complete a deal unless they have somewhere to go.

Tipner Regeneration Company also has to buy part of a former firing range which is owned by the Ministry of Defence.

Tests show there is also massive contamination like asbestos, diesel, machine oil and other chemicals. But planners are confident that with modern techniques these problems can be overcome.