3D model of Portsmouth would help with planning

Police outside student accommodation in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth on Friday Picture Ben Fishwick

Man arrested in Portsmouth explosives probe at Stanhope Road student block is released by police

An extraordinary machine at the University of Portsmouth could help transform the city's future.

The Computer Numerical Control milling machine creates pint-sized models of major cities by translating virtual images into smaller physical 3D models.

Lorraine Farrelly, professor of architecture and design at the university, has revealed they might use the machine to create a replica of Portsmouth.

She said: 'We've had a discussion with the city council and they said this was a key area of development for them.

'They have just come up with a major regeneration strategy for the city and want to start looking at connecting up different areas like Gunwharf Quays and Commercial Road.

'By creating an accurate, miniature model of the city it would allow people and developers to see the possibilities for the city.

'They would start to understand the relationship between different parts of Portsmouth - not unlike going to the top of the Spinnaker Tower and getting a view of what's going on.' She added: 'The only hurdle at the moment is the financial aspect, but we will be discussing ways to attract funding.'

The model, costing in the region of 40,000, would be made by connecting up a virtual image of the city to the CNC milling machine, which would then create the shapes out of a block of hard foam at a map scale of 1:1250.

While its home is in Portsmouth, the machine has already been used to create a mini Southampton.

Prof Farrelly said: 'It's time Portsmouth had its own model, and now with the regeneration strategy is the perfect opportunity.

'It wouldn't just be a tool for developers and architects, but we are also seeking to place it somewhere for interested members of the public to see.'

Cllr Mike Hancock, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, said: 'This model is a fantastic idea and would do wonders to help future developments and projects. It is terrific that we have the technology in Portsmouth.

Students at the university have already used the machine to make reproductions of The Hard, Commercial Road and Queen Street.