Affordability fears over plan for new 22-storey council block in Portsmouth that 'does not add up'

FEARS have been raised that a new 22-storey council tower block could fail to provide any affordable homes, as one councillor claimed it 'does not add up.'

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 5:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 5:52 pm
Artist's impressions of how the new homes in Arundel Street could look. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

As part of a drive to build more homes in Portsmouth City Council has submitted plans for a block of 76 flats with ground floor commercial space in Arundel Street, in the city centre.

It was estimated the project could cost around £22m to built with a minimum of 30 per cent of the homes rented at affordable rates.

Read More

Read More
New £22m tower block could be 'gateway' into Portsmouth city centre

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, Tory councillor Luke Stubbs had concerns the council could lose money from the scheme. He said: 'I am worried about this because I know it does not add up.

'These flats are based on a build cost of £294,000. A newly refurbished two-bedroom flat in the neighbouring building is currently on sale at £150,000.

'That block is an office building that was converted to housing to a standard comparable to a new development. The council would lose well over £100,000 on each one, even were they to rent them all at market rate.

'Yet instead they're talking about 30 per cent being below market rate. This scheme will lose £8m to £10m.'

But the council confirmed plans were at an 'early stage.'

A spokesman said: 'We're confident that the actual cost will work out significantly less.

'We're confident that the rental income from the flats, over many years, will cover the building costs and make sure it's a viable development.

'We'll be able to decide the proportion of affordable housing when we know the exact construction cost. However, as part of the planning application, we're committed to providing a minimum of 30 per cent affordable homes in line with our policy.'

However, housing campaigner and Labour Cllr Cal Corkery believed all new council builds should maximise the amount of affordable homes. He added: 'The council should be starting from the premise that it's going to be all social housing and then if it is not financially possible reducing it by a small amount.'

Proposals will be decided by the council's planning committee at a future date.