Concern over loss of commercial space as University of Portsmouth student block is allowed

NEW PURPOSE Europa House in Portsmouth, once the home of Pall Europe, will now be turned into student accommodation
NEW PURPOSE Europa House in Portsmouth, once the home of Pall Europe, will now be turned into student accommodation
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CONCERNS were raised over the city losing another office block as plans for a student halls of residence were approved.

Councillors on Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee voted by a large majority to allow Europa House, at The Hard, to become an accommodation block for more than 260 students from the University of Portsmouth.

Planning permission was given in 2012 for the 18-storey empty office block to become a £10m hotel creating 36 jobs – but nothing materialised.

There were mixed views on the committee about the development.

Councillor Ken Ellcome said: ‘How much student accommodation do we need?

‘We keep getting these applications.

‘I would like some guidance as to supply and demand.

‘For me I think it’s a great shame. I accept students have to live somewhere.

‘I have actually been in the top floor of this building...the views are absolutely stunning.’

He said some people would ‘pay a fortune’ for such a view.

‘We are going to have students occupying it with some of the best views in the city,’ he added.

‘While I accept they have to live somewhere, it seems a bit excessive.’

The six floors of multi-storey car park at the bottom of the tower are not part of the development.

The proposal will allocate seven parking spaces for staff.

And there will be 116 cycle storage spaces.

A report said there was unlikely to be an impact on parking locally.

Cllr Terry Hall said: ‘I am pleased to see this application in as much as it provides accommodation for students.

‘My hope is this sort of accommodation will free up a lot of the houses of multiple occupation in the city and make them available as family homes.

‘My main concern is the loss of offices and employment in the city.

‘More and more employment sites seem to be going over to residential and I think that’s a real shame.’

She added: ‘Reluctantly I will support this application.’

The application was approved with six votes for and two against.

Terry Murch, director of Stuart Properties Ltd, has previously said he was looking forward to ‘transforming’ the site and bringing it back into economic use.

Bouygues Development is also seeking to built a student and apartment Shard-style’ block on the site of nearby Brunel House.