A DEFENCE firm may have to resubmit plans to build 131 seafront flats – because it has taken too long to start work.
Six years ago QinetiQ was given conditional planning permission by Portsmouth City Council for the development on land next to Fraser Beach in Eastney.
But ever since they have been involved in a dispute over access to the site and so not one brick has been laid.
Now the city’s planning committee has ruled that as so much time has passed the entire proposal must be reviewed.
It means the company could have its plans thrown out.
Council planning boss John Slater said: ‘It would not be right after six years to accept a decision made so long ago. We should remove the conditional permission which was given in 2005 and reconsider the application, judging it against the current planning situation.’
Planning officers had given the scheme conditional permission, dependent on an agreement over cash payments for infrastructure and the maintenance of sea defences. They also requested environmental reports, as well as guaranteed road access to the site and a nearby caravan site.
However these conditions were never met.
Members of the public also feared they may be denied access to the beach, with QinetiQ putting fences up around public land and employing security guards to block access.
The row appeared to have ended last summer, when the firm signed an agreement with the council guaranteeing public access to the beach.
But Mr Slater said there had been changes to planning rules since 2005.
‘We have a rule which demands 30 per cent of all new housing must be affordable homes, which this proposal, drafted before the regulation came in, does not meet,’ he said.
‘We also introduced rules stating new developments should have at least one parking space per new residential unit, which this may not achieve. If a decision had been issued in 2005, without conditions, it would have expired. It should be reviewed.’
The planning committee voted unanimously to agree to review the application over the next three months.
QinetiQ can add new information, or change the scheme in that period.
But a spokesman said: ‘The council hasn’t told us it plans to withdraw outline planning consent and undertake a review.
‘It’s not unusual for a planning application to be reviewed after six years but it wouldn’t be necessary if the cabinet hadn’t acted unreasonably and unlawfully.’