Bid to build 160 flats in Portsmouth goes under microscope next week

PLANS to build more than 160 flats in Somers Town are set to be considered by councillors next week, despite an ongoing appeal.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 3:58 pm
How the flats in Middle Street could look

Portsmouth City Council's planning committee is set to make a 'conditional' judgement on the Middle Street application on Wednesday but cannot make it final until the appeal over the authority's delays is decided.

A report says the development would 'contribute positively' to both the housing and economic needs of the city.

The outline application was submitted at the end of 2018 proposing a building ranging from six to 11 storeys in height with 163 flats above ground floor commercial units.

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How the flats in Middle Street could look

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A statement submitted by the developer's architect said the site was suitable for this greater scale of development.

'[It] bridges the clearly residential massing of Somers Town and the civic and the educational buildings of the city centre [and] provides a fantastic opportunity to create a better relationship between these two distinct areas.

'The existing building does not suit the prominence of the site, and does not relate to their immediate context of 22 Middle Street, Trafalgar halls of residence or the Eldon building.'

How the flats in Middle Street could look

A separate application for a 21-bed block of student accommodation was submitted at the same time but was refused by the council last year. This decision is being appealed.

The original determination deadline for the flats scheme was March 2019 but this was pushed back for revised plans to be put forward in September last year.

This included the addition of a basement parking area aimed at overcoming concerns about a significant shortfall in spaces. The development would still have 140 fewer than is required by policy.

In December, the council said it was still considering environmental and viability issues.

How the flats in Middle Street could look

Zero affordable homes would be provided by the development following assessments of the potential profit the scheme would provide.

But with a decision still not having been made, developer PVD1 Ltd launched an appeal through the planning inspectorate last month. The council has been given a deadline of October 26 to put forward its case.

Ahead of this, the application will be considered by the council's planning committee on Wednesday with a report recommending conditional support be given.

'The proposal to provide 163 new dwellings and new employment floorspace would contribute positively towards the housing and employment needs of the city,' it says.

'Whilst the development would not provide sufficient parking to meet the council's parking standards, account has been given to the sustainable and accessible location of the site, including proximity to the city centre and public transport links. The potential impacts resulting from a shortfall in parking are not considered to demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme.'

The decision will be dependent on the outcome of the appeal.