Councillors slam ‘mess’ after discussions on landmark hotel’s future development are cancelled hours before planning meeting

A computer-generated image of the proposed eight-storey block next to the Queens Hotel in Southsea. Picture: PLP Architects
A computer-generated image of the proposed eight-storey block next to the Queens Hotel in Southsea. Picture: PLP Architects
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COUNCILLORS were left frustrated after being stripped of the chance to discuss the future development of a landmark hotel.

Planning bosses were due to debate whether Portsmouth City Council would allow the owners of the Queen’s Hotel to ditch affordable housing when they build two new blocks and convert their top floors to apartments.

But just hours before a council planning committee meeting was due to get under way yesterday, developers for the £7m project pulled out – instead calling on Bristol-based government inspectors to assess their case.

The move meant the item was scrapped from the meeting’s agenda, denying city councillors the chance to have their say on it.

Liberal Democrat Steve Pitt, who sits on the planning committee, said: ‘This is disgusting. Planning control in Portsmouth should always reside locally – not be decided by an inspector in Bristol.’

City Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson also made his feelings clear, as the meeting went ahead without a debate on the development.

He said: ‘The way this application has come forward is not the right way and it should be done better in the future – we are in a mess.’

As previously reported in The News, permission to expand the Queen’s Hotel was granted in 2012 – but it was only recently that the local planning authority heard of its owners’ plans to omit social housing.

In an official statement, Claire Upton Brown, assistant director of culture & city development at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The applicant has taken a view to seek the matter be determined by the planning inspectorate, a body independent of the council, where the technical matters can be fully deliberated.

‘The local planning authority will in due course report on this matter.’