Consultation on St James' Hospital plan sparks fears of traffic and public service strains in Portsmouth

SOARING congestion, insufficient school places and strained public services are among residents’ fears over plans to develop a disused city hospital.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 7:00 am
Architect Bill Bayliss talks to Sandra Houghton and Ray Colverwell about the proposed plans for St James' Hospital. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The gripes were aired yesterday as developer PJ Livesey took its current proposals for St James' Hospital to a public consultation.

They would see the Locksway Road site’s Grade-II listed buildings become 150 homes, with 100 more built in its grounds. 

Though developers are ‘hopeful’ the local traffic network could cope with the influx, many yesterday were left unconvinced. 

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Former Portsmouth and Southsea Cricket Club chairman and current groundsman Keith Ward, who supports the development plan for St James' Hospital. Picture: Byron Melton

Keep Milton Green supporter Peter Harling has lived in Locksway Road for 40 years. 

‘I think it’s tragic,' the 75-year-old said. 

‘If you go to the end of Locksway Road and Milton Road running north and south getting out at the weekend is a nightmare and that’s before you build these houses. 

‘It’s not going to get any better.’ 

PJ Livesey planning manager Richard Wilshaw at yesterday's consultation over plans for St James' Hospital. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Homes on the site would vary from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom detached houses with 30 per cent billed as ‘affordable’. 

One-bedroom homes would have one parking space and others would have two, across ‘courtyards’, garages and driveways. 

Angela Giles of nearby Milebush Road also fears traffic, but is most concerned about a potential strain on public services. 

‘If they’re not going to build schools, doctors and dentists here, where are these people going to go?,' she said. 

‘We cannot get a doctor’s appointment in this area for love nor money and the schools are full.

‘If these houses are built, some people expecting to go to local schools might be knocked out and sent to the other side of the city because these houses are nearer to schools than they are.’ 

The 62-year-old also slammed the decision to retain listed buildings on the basis they are ‘over-romanticised'.

She added: ‘I wouldn’t be worried at all [if they were removed]. 

‘I don’t think a lot of people would miss it.'

In contrast Portsmouth and Southsea Cricket Club groundsman, Keith Ward, said ‘a seriously good job’ could be done on the site. 

‘Retaining the listed buildings is very important,' the 67-year-old said. 

‘It’s very enlightening and very encouraging to see what they're talking about here.’ 

PJ Livesey planning manager, Richard Wilshaw, said traffic was the ‘biggest issue’ raised by respondents. 

But he added: ‘Our current work is showing 250 homes would generate a significant reduction in movements, compared to a fully-functional hospital.’