Demolition begins on Harry Redknapp owned Southsea eyesore

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Work has begun to demolish a former nightclub now owned by ex-Pompey boss Harry Redknapp.

Scaffolding has been put up around the 80-year-old Savoy Buildings on Southsea seafront – an entertainment venue for decades and most recently home to the Time and Envy and Joanna's nightclubs.

The decaying facades of the buildings have been branded an eyesore since the clubs closed – but workers have now begun the work of knocking down the structure.

Work will then get under way on building 92 flats in its place, transforming the shape of Southsea seafront to the relief of residents who complained bitterly about the state of the old Savoy, bought by Mr Redknapp in 2007.

Permission to redevelop the site was granted in July that year but when the property market crashed many feared the site would remain in its unappealing state.

Ward councillor Terry Hall, Lib Dem, said: 'People constantly raised it.

'There are one or two privately-owned derelict buildings along the seafront and the council gets the blame for that, but we're spending hundreds of thousands on shelters and repainting and the gardens.

'You can have a mouth full of beautiful teeth, but if there's one tooth missing no-one sees the others – and that's what's happening with the seafront.'

Tory ward councillor Luke Stubbs added: 'It's in the interests of the wider area to get this work done. I've had dozens of letters and notes about the buildings, more than any other issue. It's something people care about especially because it spoils the seafront so much.'

The demolition is being carried out by Portsmouth Demolition Services, based in Victory Business Centre, Fratton.

Managing director Arthur Meakin, 59, said: 'It's the end of an era isn't it? The building's been there since before the 1950s.

'In the 40s and 50s it was a busy place, from looking at photos. Going back then it was when Britain's coasts were holiday resorts.

'Obviously today it's not the same.'

10-WEEK PROJECT

The site of the Savoy Buildings was protected from development until the early 20th century, because it stood in front of a row of coastguard cottages which needed a clear line of sight to the sea.

The Savoy Buildings were built in 1929 as a ballroom and in the 1970s it became the nightclub Nero's, then Fifth Avenue, and latterly Time and Envy.

The development will see the site razed and rebuilt as 92 flats. Savoy Court, the adjoining building on its eastern flank, is to be kept intact and converted to flats.

Demolition involves around eight men, and it is expected to take around 10 weeks to clear the site.

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