Birds could stop plans for business and housing site

Portsmouth council agree to consult on Victoria Park revamp

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PLANS for a massive new housing and business development could be stopped from taking wing by migratory birds.

The RSPB has raised serious concerns that developers are not intending to do enough to protect birds using the area around Trafalgar Wharf, the site on the border of Portchester and Portsmouth.

The development on the former Vosper Thornycroft shipyard off Southampton Road will include a 12-storey block, up to 164 new homes, cafes and restaurants and 200,000sq ft of marine buildings for local businesses.

But Dr Richard Black, conservation projects officer for the RSPB wrote: ‘We have reviewed the documents and wish to object to the application in its current form due to serious misinterpretation of the habitats regulations.’

He added: ‘We consider that the applicant has under-assessed the scale and scope of the potential impacts.

‘Where impacts have been identified, the applicant has largely relied upon flawed or unsupported assumptions about the ability of the designated populations to withstand the increased pressures.

’The area is known to be home to high numbers of Brent geese, black-tailed godwits and red-breasted mergansers. He recommends the application be refused.

Concerns have also been raised by Fareham Borough Council and the Portchester Civic Society that the 40m- high tower block would overshadow nearby Portchester Castle.

English Heritage has echoed these concerns.

English Heritage’s Richard Massey, its inspector of ancient monuments, has written that they would not object.

However, he added: ‘I would strongly recommend that consideration be given to reducing be given in reducing the height of the proposed tall structure, or locating it to the northern margins of the proposed development.’

As part of the scheme, developers Quadrant Estates will give £3.1m to the Environment Agency to build new flood defences from the castle around to Port Solent.

The application will be considered by Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee, but no date has been set.

If given permission, Quadrant hopes to start work on the site by early 2014.