POTENTIAL new student rooms for Portsmouth have been criticised due to low demand for more university accommodation.
Residential & Commercial Estates Ltd have submitted a planning application to turn Wingfield House on Commercial Road into student halls of residence with 440 bedrooms and an additional three or four storeys.
The Southsea-based company previously lobbied to turn the ex-tax office into student accommodation in 2016 but with only 295 rooms.
Portsmouth City Council approved the original application with several conditions in place including taking refuse and landscaping into account, which have been met in the new plans.
The news comes after the university announced it will be closing its 600-bed flats at the Langstone Campus off Locksway Road in Milton due to the over-supply of student accommodation.
Leader of the council, Cllr Donna Jones, opposed the original plans in 2016. She said: ‘We have already reached the demand and the number of student rooms required, we actually reached this last summer. It is also entirely the wrong location for student accommodation.
‘The other main concern is that it is right on the edge of the City Centre North development which will be the most significant regeneration project in the city for 50 years.
‘We are disappointed that this application is for student housing when there is already enough and in fact the university is selling off some accommodation as it is not needed. It would be better used for affordable housing.’
If permission is granted the developers also plan to remove Wingate House’s rooftop plant room, re-clad its external elevations and provide refuse, bicycle storage, servicing, parking facilities and associated landscaping.
A spokesperson from the University of Portsmouth said: ‘The plan for student accommodation on the site of Wingfield House is an independent scheme in the city led by a private developer. The university has not been involved with this proposed development.’
Recently built student accommodation includes Greetham Street Hall and Chaucer House on Isambard Brunel Road.
The decision on Wingfield House will be made at a future planning committee meeting.