Portsmouth's second largest building that will house 591 students given the go ahead by council
COUNCILLORS have given the green light to plans for the second largest residential building in Portsmouth, despite admitting 'sadness' at being 'forced' to do so to meet housing targets.
Members of Portsmouth City Council's planning committee had been recommended to approve the 28-storey block of student accommodation in Arundel Street proposed by Fusion Students after being told it would 'set a benchmark for future regeneration with city centre'.
And despite opposition to the development, the committee agreed on Wednesday to grant planning permission with council leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson saying the council's 'hands are tied' in being able to refuse it.
Submitted at the end of last year, the application proposed the construction of a part seven, part 21 and part 28-storey build which would house 591 student beds and four ground floor commercial units.
At Wednesday's planning committee meeting, councillors were told the development would equate to the equivalent of 240 homes - about a quarter of the total required to be built in the city each year to meet the controversial government housing target.
The target to build more than 17,000 homes over the next 15 years was once again criticised by councillors who said it was forcing them to approve projects that were 'not in the city's best interests'.
'I don't think there's a way we can say no to planning permission on this, government has reduced and reduced our ability to influence how buildings are built within this city,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.
'I am sad that it is so but we also need to be aware that the number of houses the government is imposing on us means we will have to be building more and more tall buildings.’
He said that as many as 40 buildings of a similar height could be required to be built in the city centre in order for the council to meet its 'ludicrous' obligations.
'It is with some sadness that this will go through,' he added.
'I don't think it's in the best interests of the city but I think the government has given us absolutely no choice and our hands are tied.'
Planning permission was granted by the committee by a majority.
Councillors also agreed to further consider whether the accommodation could be used to house the homeless outside of the usual term times and to keep the use of the commercial units under review.