Inspector clears the way for more retirement flats

Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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PLANS for a block of retirement flats have been given the green light despite objections from neighbours and the council.

A Bristol-based planning inspector has overturned a Portsmouth City Council decision to stop the development in Havant Road between Cosham and Drayton.

The block includes 52 one and two-bedroom retirement flats and will replace a disused nursery on the site.

In November, councillors unanimously voted against the plans because they were out of character with the area and not enough parking spaces had been planned – only 19 for the site.

Residents also objected, fearing the area was being turned into a ‘granny ghetto’ with more retirement homes.

Developer Andrew Burgess, of Churchill Retirement Living, said: ‘We’re delighted by the decision but we’re frustrated that we had to take it to appeal.

‘We could have created the jobs in November rather than now, plus there’s a massive need for this type of development in Portsmouth.’

But neighbour, Jonathan Parry, said: ‘There are a lot of nice, old-fashioned houses in this neighbourhood which are being taken over. Everything’s becoming a granny ghetto.

‘It’s out of keeping and it’s designed just to stuff as many flats as possible on top of each other.’

David Wooller, another neighbour, said the block would cause parking problems and create extra traffic.

He said: ‘It will create a danger on Havant Road because there is a bit of a blind spot there.’

Mr Wooller said some of the existing retirement blocks nearby were not even full.

Neighbour, Felicity Mellows said there should be more of a mix of property uses in the road.

‘I appreciate if there’s a need for retirement housing, but it’s a shame if it meant all of the houses around here were going to be taken over.

‘You’ve got loads of young people who would love to be able to buy their own house.

‘Affordable housing would have been better.’

Drayton and Farlington ward councillor Simon Bosher said it was ‘completely astounding’ the planning inspector had approved what he called ‘cardboard-box accommodation’.

Cllr Bosher said: ‘Once again big business has won and they’re going to bulldoze their way through the character of the area.’

Mr Burgess said the old nursery would be demolished next month. He said: ‘We’re looking to start the development in May with the hope that we can get first occupation in the summer of 2015.’

The council also threw out a plan for another block of retirement flats nearby, on the corner of Havant Road and Carmarthen Avenue. That decision is up for review later this month.