AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled to transform a historic Ministry of Defence site in Portsmouth into a luxury hotel.
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones says two hotel operators specialising in four and five-star accommodation are interested in buying The Wardroom of HMS Nelson, off Queen Street, Portsea.
Cllr Jones says she has taken the businesses – whose identities have not been revealed – on a tour of the premises and they were impressed with its potential.
And she believes interest from the hotel trade will be heightened now that the government has announced it intends to sell The Wardroom as part of a package with 11 other MoD estates.
Defence minister Mark Lancaster – Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage’s husband – has said money from sales will be ploughed back into the defence budget.
Cllr Jones says she has been working with Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, Commodore Jeremy Rigby on the hotel proposals.
She said: ‘This is an aspiration I have worked on with Cdre Rigby since becoming leader of the council.
‘The Wardroom is a beautiful, old and historic building, but it needs a lot of work done to it to bring the living arrangements up to the standard.
‘My interest is the potential future use of the site and helping Portsmouth in its regeneration and growth.
‘I have had a number of high-end hotel operators visit the city, one of which has been interested in The Wardroom for over a year.’
The Wardroom is outside the security cordon, on the opposite side of the road to the naval base.
There have previously been calls to turn it into a maritime academy, but this plan made no progress.
Cllr Jones says she has lobbied Mr Lancaster about the benefits of The Wardroom being used for a commercial purpose, and he is exploring the idea.
The government says it would prefer to see new homes built on the sites that are up for sale to meet its ambition to build 160,000 new properties by 2020.
But the Defence Infrastructure Organisation – which manages MoD’s land – says it is down to local planning authorities to dictate what they should be used for, so a hotel would not be out of the question.
The MoD plans to reduce the size of its estates, covering 452,000 hectares, by 30 per cent. It is hoped £1bn will be generated through land sales.
A Royal Navy spokesperson declined to comment.
Main picture courtesy of www.savetheryalnavy.org
Luxury accommodation would boost city’s prospects
PORTSMOUTH could reap the rewards if a new high-end hotel company were to come to the city, council leader Donna Jones has claimed.
Ever since coming to power in 2014, Cllr Jones has been determined to bring an upmarket hotel to Portsmouth.
She argues having a new luxury accommodation would be the ‘domino’ to trigger innovation’ in the city.
Cllr Jones believes Portsmouth would be able to host more international conferences, attracting more companies to the city which would eventually boost employment.
The knock-on effect of this, she says, would be lower obesity levels and teenage pregnancy rates and higher life expectancy.