A PLANNING application for a former military site has sparked fears that it could lead to further development.
JLL has applied to Portsmouth City Council for permission to upgrade and widen the access road to the Qinetiq site, off Fort Cumberland Road, in Eastney.
The authority has received 42 letters of objection from residents.
They are concerned that the road would pave the way for an application for hundreds of homes, similar to the one rejected in 2005.
Hazel Parks, who lives in the road, said: ‘We are totally against it.
‘I’m against development on that site as it is an area of natural beauty. There are rare birds that nest there and if it is disturbed, it could cause terrible trouble.
‘We’re deeply concerned by this as we think it’s a back road way of getting permissions on the site. Once they get permission for a road, then it will be flats next.’
But Shaun Adams, chief executive of the company behind the plan, has moved to reassure those concerned that the road upgrade is just an initial application.
He said his company was carrying out ecological and environmental studies, expected to take a year, before any work would begin on the brownfield site.
He said that if allowed, while the road could potentially accommodate up to 300 homes on the site, the company was not looking to build that many.
Mr Adams said: ‘We are not set to develop 300 units on that site.
‘There will eventually be a mix of residential, but until we receive the results of the reports and all the information, it would be difficult to say how many homes, or what is proposed.’
He said that the company plans on holding a public consultation, once it is further ahead with its plans.
He added: ‘We have been surprised by the level of objection and we now recognise the importance of engaging with the community on a much deeper level.’
The site has long been a contentious issue in the Eastney area.
It was developed during the war for defence purposes, but its buildings have been left derelict since it was decommissioned by QinetiQ two years ago.
There have been several applications for the site, including one in 2005 to build three blocks of flats overlooking the nearby nudist beach, which saw the council spend nearly £500,000 in legal costs after it blocked the application.
Buildings on the site have been subject to anti-social behaviour over the past two years, including drug use, vandalism and trespass.
A QinetiQ spokesperson said: ‘Proposals for its future are being discussed with Portsmouth City Council. Any development following QinetiQ’s sale of the land will be subject to proper community consultation and to further applications as part of the normal planning process.’
The city council is yet to set a date to consider the application. For more search reference 16/01438/FUL on portsmouth.gov.uk