Mixed reaction to Rowner homes plan on site of fire-hit centre

The aftermath of the fire in December at the former Royal Sailors' Rest Family Centre site
The aftermath of the fire in December at the former Royal Sailors' Rest Family Centre site
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PLANS for new homes on a former family centre site partly destroyed by fire have been met with mixed reaction.

A developer has submitted a proposal to build 13 homes on the old Royal Sailor’s Rest Community Centre in Grange Lane, in Rowner.

It comes after it was hit by two fires last year on February 24 and December 29.

Councillor Mark Hook is the leader of Gosport Borough Council, which will decide on the application.

He said: ‘It’s important we do something about the site.

‘I’m disappointed that there’s not a community feel to (the plans).

‘In that particular area it would be useful to have community facilities.

‘While it’s appreciated they’re trying to do something to tidy up the site, solely putting residential (there) isn’t the answer.’

He said the area is in need of a facility for groups to meet and for similar uses.

Niall Tutton, of Robert Tutton Town Planning Consultants Ltd, wrote in his report: ‘Redevelopment of this despoiled site in the manner proposed would achieve efficient use of this underused, previously-developed, sustainable land.

‘It would bring the land back into positive and productive use and play a part in broadening the choice of housing accommodation available.’

The plans are for six three-bedroom homes and seven two-bedroom homes.

As reported, around 30 firefighters tackled a fire at the former centre, off St Nicholas Avenue in February last year.

And in December it was hit by fire again, with 56 firefighters spending more than four hours to put out the blaze.

That led to calls for the building to be knocked down to avoid further damage.

Back then, the owner said he would look into knocking it down. This has since been done, according to the planning documents submitted.

Patrick Bergin is the Ukip councillor for Rowner and Holbrook. He said he hadn’t seen the plans yet.

But he added: ‘There’s a shortage in housing. There’s a high demand for two-bedroom houses.’

In his report, Mr Sutton added: ‘A very dilapidated two-storey community centre building stood on the site but it had to be demolished after it was vandalised and subjected to an arson attack.

‘It presents a poor and impoverished appearance.’

A decision is due later this year in September.