Demolition of Portsmouth car park to provide 'canvas' for wider regeneration of Somers Town
As part of a deal with the University of Portsmouth, the city council is due to buy the Melbourne Place car park in Somers Town and knock it down.
This will then play a part in a larger redevelopment scheme when the neighbouring Leamington and Horatia House blocks are taken down as planned.
Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, approved the move during a meeting on Monday, giving authority to an officer to draw up the official agreement. He said: ‘I think this is a sensible thing to do, it gives us a much bigger canvas when looking at redeveloping that bit of Somers Town where the two tower blocks are.
'I've had lots of feedback that that car park was used for criminal activity.
'For me the opportunity of being able to start the Somers Town regeneration master plan is so great. It's been on the bill for 15 years.
'I was shown our financial position and it showed a regeneration of that area was financially viable. The most important thing is making sure there are more affordable homes for local families.'
In exchange for the site, the university will be given the leasehold of the Dorothy Dymond car park, also known as the Guildhall Walk car park, in Alec Rose Lane for its staff to use.
However, Tory leader Cllr Donna Jones had concerns over the loss of £167,000 a year to the council from the Dorothy Dymond site.
She said: 'The criminal activity in Melbourne Place is a genuine social issue so I think that's a good idea.
'The Dorothy Dymond car park brings income in. Losing income in the current climate is a factor that we need to take into consideration quite seriously.'
A spokesman for the University of Portsmouth said: 'The university is yet to reach a heads of terms agreement with the council on Dorothy Dymond and Melbourne Place car parks.'However, the university would be happy to consider any formal proposal the council brings forward. We are keen to support the council’s aspirations for future regeneration in the Somers Town area.
'Any agreement on the two car parks would have to align with the long-term needs and interests of the university’s staff and students.'
It is planned the council will build at least 272 social homes on the sites following the de-construction of Leamington and Horatia, which were found to be unsafe following works to remove cladding.
Last year a public consultation was held to ask residents what they'd like the new development to take into account.