Portsmouth Debenhams site: Further details revealed on plan for 38-storey skyscraper in the city centre

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‘POOR man's Dubai’ or ‘much needed investment’ – plans for a 38-storey skyscraper in a former department store in the city centre have divided opinion, as further details on proposal have been revealed.

The Jubilee Place project would see a four-building complex replace the former Debenhams store on the corner of Commercial Road and Arundel Street.

Included in the plans is a 120-meter tall tower - which would dwarf the city’s current tallest residential building, the East Side Plaza – also known at the Lipstick Tower in Gunwharf Quays – standing at 101 metres.

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The new multi-million project would see a mix of private ownership, rented, student, and ‘key worker’ discounted accommodation.

A CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre 

Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town PlannerA CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre 

Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town Planner
A CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town Planner

Planning consultants say they hope for the building work to be completed by the end of 2025 – but first the site needs planning permission from the city council, which will be taking onboard resident’s feedback.

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With the plans on display outside the Debenhams store on Thursday, reaction has been mixed.

‘It’s a poor man’s Dubai’, said Lee Stuart, 55, who grew up in Portsmouth and now lives in Kiev.

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A CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre 

Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town Planner, : 01983 559391 , phil@psplanning.co.uk
07505 018 042A CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre 

Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town Planner, : 01983 559391 , phil@psplanning.co.uk
07505 018 042
A CGI image of a 38-storey tower planned for the former Debenhams in Portsmouth City Centre Submitted on December 12, 2022 by Phil Salmon, Consultant Town Planner, : 01983 559391 , [email protected] 07505 018 042

Lee added: ‘It’s never going to get off the ground, because of the council. Look at Tipner.’

Other were more enthusiastic, like Angela Stonhom, from Southsea.

She said: ‘I think it’s a really good idea. We need more investment in shops.’

But she added: ‘But I think it’s going to be overwhelming for this part of the city.’

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But the project’s towering height is seen as a ‘statement’ of confidence in its overall success, according to planning consultant Phil Salmon.

He said: ‘We want to make a landmark building’.

Addressing the need for more shops in the city centre, the planning consultant said that the projects hopes to attract a department store on the ground floor of the main building.

Mr Salmon said: ‘Ideally we would have a department store but there are not many left. The market for retail is really low.

‘The main thing is flexibility. We can have large shops or small shops.

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He added: ‘We are getting a strong message from locals that they don’t want student housing so that may mean we provide more general housing.'

Planned key worker discount housing could see units offered with a 20 per cent discount on rent for blue light workers and teachers.

For one resident, change can’t come soon enough.

Rose Brand, an 88-year-old resident of Plymouth street, said: ‘‘I have been here all my life. They need to cater for people who need homes. It's about time. We definitely need more homes for local people.

Looking around Commercial Road, which has been hard-hit by a series of store closures, Rose added: ‘I don’t think there’s the words to describe how it’s gone downhill.

‘I hope to live long enough to see some change.’

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