Frustrations raised as Portsmouth St James’ Hospital redevelopment plans stall

The audience at the Milton Neighbourhood Forum in Portsmouth
The audience at the Milton Neighbourhood Forum in Portsmouth
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RESIDENTS spoke of their frustration as no new light could be shed over plans to redevelop the site of St James’ Hospital.

Milton Neighbourhood Forum had last night hoped to hear from the Homes and Communities Agency – which owns parcels of the land – what its intentions are.

We are talking and hearing about the same things now as we were eight years ago. We are no further down the road.

Former councillor Alex Bentley

But Bruce Voss, HCA area manager, warned it wouldn’t be able to work on any plans for the sites, south of the hospital building and separately The Harbour School, until the end of 2017.

Mr Voss said the HCA can only work out what to do, and what other land can be bought, once the NHS comes up with a plan and a time schedule to relocate facilities it owns on the estate to the St Mary’s campus.

But he said there are plans to put up fencing around the HCA’s portion to protect it and to ‘stop people getting injured’ while nothing happens.

The news prompted concerns that the land will just be used anyway to create more homes, given the HCA promotes housing development.

One audience member said: ‘It seems the main proposal is just for housing. I have not seen anything about future employment or community facilities for the site.

‘Yet we hear that the doctors’ surgeries are full. Being around in the day I have noticed how congested the roads are.

‘Are we looking forward to the rest of our existence to more and more housing in what is the first or second most crowded city in Europe?’

Former Milton councillor, Alex Bentley, said: ‘We are talking and hearing about the same things now as we were eight years ago. We are no further down the road.’

Mr Voss said: ‘We are waiting for the NHS to firm up its timetable for the relocation to St Mary’s. Once we know that, the plans will firm up.

‘At the moment, we can’t talk about land we don’t own.’

But Mr Voss promised he wants to work with the area’s Neighbourhood Planning Forum, which wants to create a blueprint for how Milton should be developed, to ensure the community has a say over what’s built.

Lib Dem councillor, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said it was good the HCA was on board, as opposed to a commercial landowner which would not seek people’s views.