Opinion split over ‘blade tower’ for Portsmouth’s students

SHARP DESIGN An artist's impression of the 'blade' building
SHARP DESIGN An artist's impression of the 'blade' building
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IT WILL stand more than 300ft tall and dwarf the buildings around it – but a controversial new addition to Portsmouth’s skyline has been given the go-ahead.

Portsmouth City Council has given its seal of approval to the 33-storey ‘blade tower’ – a student halls of residence block on the site of the former Victoria Baths in the city centre.

Plans for the building have split opinion in the city since the University of Portsmouth announced its intention to develop the site last February.

And although 80 per cent of residents involved in a two-day public survey – around 350 in total – told the council they felt the plans were right for the university and the city, complaints have been made about the design.

English Heritage said it believed the 330ft tower was ‘vastly too big’ and would dwarf the Grade II-listed Guildhall.

The council’s parks department also complained, citing ‘shadowing’ over the park and ‘wind turbulence’ caused by the structure.

Eight residents wrote to object to the plans, saying they feared the building would be too bulky.

Speaking at a meeting of the city council’s planning sub-committee, which unanimously approved the plans, retired biologist Ian Copplestone, of Wadham Road, North End, argued that the proposed structure was simply too big.

‘It will be the biggest building in Portsmouth, dwarfing the Guildhall,’ he said. ‘The shadow it casts will be immense.

In a letter to the council, the Portsmouth Society backed the scheme, saying a tall building would be appropriate and exciting.

Canon of St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral David Hopgood wrote to say the development had beauty and inspiration and would ‘enhance the central part of the city’. Responding to the council’s decision, university Vice-Chancellor John Craven said: ‘I think it will be a landmark building for the city.’