Criticism of new bell tower for £2m Portchester Community Centre

ROW The new Portchester Community Centre in Westlands Grove, Portchester. Picture: Paul Jacobs  (123837-1)
ROW The new Portchester Community Centre in Westlands Grove, Portchester. Picture: Paul Jacobs (123837-1)
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PLANS for an ornamental bell tower on top of a new £2m community centre have been criticised.

Work on the main building of the Portchester Community Centre, in Westlands Grove, is now completed and it is expected to open to the public in the new year.

But a bell tower, plus five CCTV cameras, were only added to the centre plans this month.

As the additions to the building don’t require full planning permission, critics say the public haven’t been given the chance to have their say on whether they want the bell.

The bell to be put in is from a local school in the 1870s. It will be fixed in place and will not ring.

At a planning meeting Portchester Cllr Roger Price admitted he did not like the idea on aesthetic grounds, adding: ‘There have been a number of issues relating to procedure and how this council has operated in this particular case.

‘In September 2011 the task and finish panel confirmed it wanted the bell tower. We then go forward to only on November 8 this year that a request from the county council was made for the amendment (to the planning application).

‘To the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t appeared on a weekly list, it hasn’t been advertised and I know there have been a lot of people who were opposed to the bell tower who haven’t had the chance to make a deputation.’

Cllr Price called for the committee to defer the item to the next meeting, but this was rejected.

Lee Smith, chief planning officer, said: ‘It can’t be advertised as it’s not a full planning application, it’s a condition.’

Cllr Price and fellow ward Cllr Nick Walker did not vote as they both sat on the panel which has overseen the community centre project. The condition was passed unanimously by the committee.