Campaigners warn Portsmouth's healthcare and schools are at '˜breaking point' as Kingston Prison flats scheme is approved
PLANS to turn Portsmouth's former Kingston Prison estate into hundreds of luxury apartments have been approved '“ despite fears local services are already at '˜breaking point' and roads won't cope.
Councillors yesterday accepted the plans by City & Country to use the estate’s historic buildings to build 230 homes – 157 being flats and 73 being family properties.
But campaigners were dismayed as they say traffic will surge – and no affordable homes have been included for those who need them.
They also fear schools and GP surgeries will buckle under the pressure.
Tory councillor Steve Hastings described the planned homes as ‘square blocks of ice cream against classical buildings’.
Milton resident and founder of Keep Milton Green, Kimberly Barrett, said: ‘Healthcare and schools are at breaking point, and a traffic survey we did showed that nearby junctions were at or beyond capacity.
‘I find it awful that Baffins and the surrounding area will put up with building work, yet reap no benefit from it.’
Larry Nicholas, chairman of Baffins Neighbourhood Forum, said: ‘This city is desperately in need of more affordable housing.’
Southern Water warned the sewage network would not cope. It was said improvements would be made before anyone moves in – and City & Country would cover costs.
There was also dismay as the press and public were ordered out for a section of the meeting discussing the profit City & Country would make.
Addressing the criticism, Richard Winsborough, associate director for planning at City & Country, said: ‘We have been up front and honest from day one. This type of heritage scheme is not able to uphold normal affordable housing aspirations.
‘But we do recognise the friction this causes.’
The plans were approved, with four members in favour and three against.
Councillor Ken Ellcome led approval of the scheme, which was seconded by Cllr Colin Galloway. He said the view of the flats would be better than a ‘prison surrounded by barbed wire’.
City & Country is to put £1.1m into a fund the council can use on projects.