Political leaders welcome planned University of Portsmouth student halls development

A CGI image of the Unite student accommodation building
A CGI image of the Unite student accommodation building

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PLANS have been drawn up for a high-rise block of student accommodation in the heart of Portsmouth.

Unite Students wants to house 830 students from the University of Portsmouth inside the halls of residence off Greetham Street.

The building will be 240ft and 25 storeys – taller than other high-rise residential blocks in the area such as Ladywood House in Somers Town, which stands at 236ft.

It is expected to free up about 150 terraced homes occupied by students for families that need a place to live, easing the strain on the number of houses in multiple occupation in the city.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, outgoing leader of the council, said: ‘It’s within walking distance of the university and it’s right in the middle of the city centre.

‘It’s important that we build more student accommodation and work with the university so family homes in Southsea can be offered to families.’

Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the Conservatives, said while she supports more student accommodation, the developer should come up with a more unique design, rather than something looking like a ‘monolithic office block’.

‘I want Portsmouth’s university to be one of the best in the world and it’s good to have spaces available,’ she said.

The flats will be put on two plots of land occupying a former Citizens’ Advice Bureau site and a car park which Unite Students has bought from Portsmouth City Council.

One of the conditions of the sale was storage for market traders operating at the north end of Commercial Road will be built into the ground floor.

That is because the traders will need somewhere to keep equipment once they move to a new home when work finally begins on the Northern Quarter retail development.

The halls will hold more students than the 600 that would have gone into the proposed Blade tower on the former site of the Victoria Baths, a project which has never gone ahead after the developer pulled out in 2012.

While there were issues with the Blade tower meeting fire regulations, Unite Students intends to put in a sprinkler system, smoke alarms and equipment to put out fires.

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour leader, said if sites aren’t being developed then they should be turned over to someone who will make things happen and not leave them derelict.

The university says it intends to review its estate over the next nine months and study the future of developments being made on its behalf.

A university spokeswoman said: ‘Unite has been keeping us updated about its proposals to submit a planning application for this significant new development of student accommodation in the heart of the city.

‘We look forward to seeing the final designs and will continue to remain in dialogue with Unite as the application progresses.’