PLANS have been submitted for cinema screens, coffee bar, shops and 43-bed hotel at the former Knight & Lee building.
Developer That Group hopes to start work at the building in the Palmerston Road precinct by early next year if it wins planning permission for the multi-million pound project.
The scheme would see excavation work in the mid-1950s building’s basement. Much of the third floor’s structure would be demolished and rebuilt with a one-storey extension.
It would include shared offices run by This Workspace, rooftop bar and terrace and rooms for events.
St Jude ward councillor Hugh Mason said the scheme was ‘imaginative’.
He said: ‘Given the state of the high streets at the moment I want to see the building in use.
‘I think it’s an imaginative scheme, I’m a little concerned about its commercial viability – the hotel especially.
‘It’s the use I want to see and if anything, better than having the place boarded up.’
Cllr Mason added it ‘certainly deserves the consideration of the planning committee’.
Details from the plans show the developers hopes to have two independent shops and seating in Palmerston Road between Debenhams and the former John Lewis building.
The firm said there would also be ‘retail, food and beverage and pop-ups’ with a bike shop, and a gym.
Peter Tisdale, chief executive at That Group, said: 'We are very encouraged by the support and positive feedback we have received to date from the local community about our plans, which will deliver major new investment to this part of the town centre and ensure this landmark building continues to positively contribute to the vitality of Southsea's town centre.
'Our project team has been working very hard over the last few months to progress our regeneration plans, which will deliver and exciting and varied mix of new uses, creating a destination for local people to work, shop, sleep, meet, eat and drink.'
London-based EPR Architects, who were responsible for The Old War Office in Whitehall, have been appointed for the project.
More than 400 people took part in a consultation. That Group, which had hoped to start work by this month, said 70 per cent of feedback was positive.
John Lewis shut in July after it had operated in Portsmouth since 1887.
That Group was responsible for bringing a now-approved request for planning permission for an 18-storey block with 147 flats and a 19-storey 222-bed Hilton hotel in Stanhope Road in 2018. It is known as Portsmouth Point and is not yet built.