Controversial plans for 21 student homes in centre of Portsmouth rejected

CONTROVERSIAL plans for 21 student homes in the city centre have been rejected for failing to comply with council policy.

By Fiona Callingham
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 5:07 pm

At a planning committee meeting yesterday councillors ruled against a four-storey development in Middle Street, in Somers Town, which would have meant the demolition of an existing two-storey building.

No provision had been made for employment opportunities on the ground floor of the building, which councillors used to object to proposals.

Councillor Lee Hunt had concerns about how this would affect the road. Speaking at the meeting he said: 'What is important with tall buildings is how they relate to the ground floor. We need them to be busy on the ground floor or else you get dead streets.

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How the Middle Street development could have looked - the student homes are on the end. Picture: Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt

'In this particular case it breaches policy by not providing employment use of the ground floor.'

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Many also had reservations about creating more accommodation for students.

Cllr Steve Pitt, said: 'I am more worried here about the fact we will lose two normal residential units for student homes - usually they are provided on brownfield sites.

CGI of the an eleven-storey block with 163 flats and 21-flat student block in Middle Street, Portsmouth. Picture: Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt Architects

'My concern is we have seen a number of student accommodation around the city - none of which are cost effective. Compared to HMOs (houses in multiple occupancy) rent is massively high, therefore, not freeing up homes for residents.'

However, Ben Christian, speaking on behalf of the applicant PV Developers, said: 'This site is appropriate for student accommodation as it is close to the university, the city centre and good transport links.

'The local area supports the scale and design of the development.'

An application has also been submitted by the same developer for an 11-storey development of 163 flats as well as retail.

John Tarrant, who runs neighbouring Sunrise Stained Glass - which will be demolished if plans for the 163 flats are approved, attended the meeting to make his fears about the student homes known.

He said: 'My first objection is parking. It will take out eight parking spaces. The other retail units in the street haven't been taken because no one can find any spaces and it's hard to get deliveries.'

Cllr Luke Stubbs added: 'I share the concerns of others. I don't think this is particularly positive development.'

Six councillors voted to refuse the application and one abstained.