Bid for rethink on Tipner West scheme in Portsmouth as £10m already spent on 3,500-home project
CALLS have been made for a rethink on building a 3,500-home super-peninsula after £10m has already been spent on the ‘gamble’.
Opposition is growing against the £1bn plan at Tipner West dreamed up by Portsmouth City Council.
Some £4.6m has been spent on planning consultants, £3.8m on snapping up land and £600,000 on survey costs.
The Liberal Democrat administration has agreed to fork out another £7.5m in preparing a planning application and land acquisition. Talks are ongoing over the sale of the John Pounds scrapyard with a deal struck but not finalised.
All of this is being spent while wildlife conservationists and heritage experts warn against the ambitious 140-acre scheme, now called Lennox Point.
Labour councillors Cal Corkery and Judith Smyth want a rethink and fresh report on viable alternatives on the huge site.
In a motion set to be debated on Monday, they said: ‘Members of the Liberal Democrat Cabinet have themselves expressed concerns about being able to secure permission for their current proposals but are still prepared to gamble £18.3m of public money on something that may well not go ahead.’
Nearly 24,000 people have signed a petition run by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and backed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
They fear 67 acres of protected habitat will be concreted over, as well as seven acres of protected land.
Tipner West is a site of special scientific interest, a special protection area and a recognised important wetland.
The Labour councillors said: ‘Not only would the plans cause unacceptable damage to the local environment and wildlife, we are also concerned the kind of development being pursued is not what our city needs.
‘Despite most of the Tipner West site being publicly owned land the current proposals include just 30 per cent affordable housing meaning the majority of new properties on the site will be expensive luxury homes out of reach of many local people.
They added: ‘It’s time to pause and rethink the Tipner West project to ensure value for money is achieved, the environment is protected and the maximum possible levels of affordable housing are delivered.’
Councillor Hugh Mason, cabinet member for city development, said he is against any pausing or slowing of the project - and that council officers keep the project under review.
‘If we were to stop it we would lose money and we might even lose staff,’ he said.
Cllr Mason added: ‘I don’t think there is any alternative to the site which we have got - not in the southern part of the UK.’
A delayed public consultation is expected this summer, with at least four further opportunities for people to make comments before planning is decided 2023/24.
Lennox Point could provide around a million square feet of marine employment space - generating 2,000 jobs, it’s hoped.
Cllr Mason said the plans would have to meet the objections of environmental groups and by law boost biodiversity.
Scheme planners are looking at compensating for the loss of intertidal mud and short grassland used by Brent geese, dunlin and black-tailed godwit birds.
Full council will hear the debate on Monday.