‘Why 107 homes should not be built at St James’s Hospital’ - a Portsmouth campaigner explains

Kimberly Barrett from Keep Milton Green, in the grounds of  St James's Hospital 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (160903-4932)
Kimberly Barrett from Keep Milton Green, in the grounds of St James's Hospital 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (160903-4932)
Picture: Habibur Rahman

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DOZENS of people have objected to plans to demolish two villas and build more than 100 homes at St James’s Hospital in Milton.

The News reported today that despite local residents, councillors and campaign groups objecting, permission has already been granted to knock down four buildings to make space.

CGI of homes set to be built on the former site of villas in the grounds of St James' Hospital. Picture: Homes Agency

CGI of homes set to be built on the former site of villas in the grounds of St James' Hospital. Picture: Homes Agency

READ MORE: Campaigners fight plans for 107 homes in Portsmouth hospital grounds

Here Kimberly Barrett from Keep Milton Green explains in her own words why she objects to the plans.

I fully object to this application for the following reasons:

1) The loss of historic buildings due to their approved demolition. They could be reused for other uses and their loss is damaging to the landscape as well as ruining the setting of the Grade II-listed chapel which is only 20 metres away. Residents have fought and won against other applications due to the setting of the chapel so this is no different and it is a travesty to lose such beautiful buildings to be replaced with three blocks of three-storey flats that are not in keeping with the area.

2) There is no evidence of additional school places or healthcare provisions. A large number of these properties are aimed at families at a time where there soon will not be enough school places for the children across the city let alone in Milton. GP surgeries are combining yet waiting times for appointments often are in access of four to six weeks. It is also stated that there will be adequate GP provision to accommodate projected growth south of the city to 2026! Highly unlikely.

3) Policies used to determine this application are outdated (in some cases by 17 years). A lot has changed and therefore, these polices are inappropriate

4) Air quality is a huge issue for this city. The applicant has used PCC’s 2017 Air Quality Strategy which has now been accepted by DEFRA as being flawed so this is near-negligible.

5) There has already been a 6.3 per cent increase in traffic from 2014-16. We already know from a traffic survey done by local Milton people in 2014 that junctions cannot be improved. The Transport planner for PCC has also stated that the density is excessive for this part of the city. The applicant tries to mitigate circumstances by suggesting leaving a note to new occupants to consider walking and cycling and following it up later by doing a survey.

6) There is no justification regarding the loss of the two villas. It is also poor that Historic England leave these decisions to the local authority when commenting on applications unless groups pay them £1,500 for advice. A justification for their loss is their disassociation from the hospital and the chapel by existing tree screening. They are set in a leafy landscape because it was in a setting for tranquillity and peace for the psychiatric care of patients. Replacing them with three blocks of three-storey buildings is completely not acceptable and out of character. These villas are of huge importance. They were designed by local architect Albert Cogswell who has made a huge impact on local architecture. They must be retained.

7) This is unwanted and unjustifiable. Although the most suitable place to put housing (out of the whole area of the St James Hospital site including Phase 2) is on the old Harbour School site, other aspects are not ideal at all and we as residents feel like we have not been listened to. Although a large number of trees are to be retained and there is green space, not all of them are going to remain and that is disappointing. The fact that the two villas are to be demolished and an application pushed through regarding this before even obtaining any kind of planning permission for Phase 1 is a kick in the teeth to residents as it seems an incredible waste when there is every chance that Phase 1 application may not go through yet we loose these beautiful buildings. I personally implore Homes England and LDA to seriously reconsider the demolition of these stunning buildings.

The Portsmouth Plan states that infrastructure must be there before any new building takes place. If that is the case then we cannot allow further development until this is improved for current residents let alone any future residents. We have a shortage of school places, lack of sufficient GPs/healthcare, transport issues, huge issues with air quality and also, further issues with sewage, protecting plant and wildlife as well as transport links.

I oppose this application and hope that Homes England rethinks - especially regarding the demolition of the two villas which is a travesty and something that many have asked to be retained since they brought Phase 1. Myself and others discussed this at workshops held by Homes England and the LDA where various groups were consulted and we were extremely specific about retaining the two villas so it is extremely disappointing that they are not to be retained, especially at a time where the mental health service is being cut across the board and buildings like these are ideal for those uses or just to be reused.

I hope that they stay true to their promise at the Milton Forum where they stated that they WILL provide at least the minimum percentage of affordable housing for the site if they get planning permission as, so far, Homes England have not met that target in their previous developments across the UK regarding affordable homes.