PROPOSALS to convert old hospital buildings into affordable housing have been praised by Portsmouth planners.
An application to redevelop Finchdean House on the St Mary’s Hospital site was approved by the city council’s planning committee.
The decision follows a previous refusal of permission for flats in Milton Road, Milton, because councillors thought the new, modern-looking structures suggested were ‘inappropriate’ additions to the historic buildings.
But the new designs show space for 73 affordable flats in two existing buildings, plus extensions in a similar style
They were submitted on behalf of Guinness Hermitage housing association and won the committee’s unanimous backing.
Cllr Lee Hunt, chairman of the planning committee and the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, called the previous application ‘greedy’ for trying to fit too many flats onto the site while only offering a relatively small amount for community improvements.
But he described the new plans as a huge improvement and said: ‘I was quite scathing last time and rightly so.
‘But this just shows that the planning committee can really have an influence on things. It shows we should never worry about being tough with developers, because what they come back with are often much better plans.
‘These new designs are absolutely fabulous and are going to make a lot of people who get to live there very happy.’
The Conservative spokesman for community safety, Cllr Ken Ellcome, said: ‘These new designs are a vast improvement on what we had before.
‘As long as it comes out looking like the pictures I will be very satisfied.’
Lib Dem councillor Margaret Foster added: ‘It’s going to have a real wow factor when you’re driving down Milton Road.’
Rick Carter, director of PLC Architects, who designed the building, said he had been delighted with the response to the new designs.
‘They loved them,’ he said. ‘It is rare to hear the committee that enthusiastic about a project, they were extremely happy and so are we.
‘It is going to be a great project for Portsmouth.’