Huge plans to redevelop Portsmouth city centre are 'progressing well' a city council boss has insisted

Portsmouth aerial Fratton Park and Tesco being built CREDIT

Picture: Shaun RosterPortsmouth aerial Fratton Park and Tesco being built CREDIT

Picture: Shaun Roster
Portsmouth aerial Fratton Park and Tesco being built CREDIT Picture: Shaun Roster
MAJOR plans to redevelop Portsmouth city centre are 'progressing well' with a planning application for the multi-million pound scheme set to be submitted next month.

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the City Centre North project was a 'key' part of efforts to meet future demand in the city, particularly with it expected to accommodate more than 2,000 homes.

The council completed its purchase of the Tricorn site from Delancey at the end of January, following a deal to buy the former Sainsbury's store last year and is now working on a compulsory purchase order for remaining plots.

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'City Centre North is a core feature of our plans,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said speaking about the Tricorn acquisition. 'But the pace it was moving was not helpful and eventually we lost patience and decided this was the best way to go.'

The council has yet to decide whether it will take on responsibility for carrying out the development or to contract outside help but a cabinet report says 'high level discussions' were likely to be concluded later this year.

'Conversations' have already been held with developers, including Homes England

The first major milestone in the regeneration project could come with the submission of the planning application in April.

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'This work has been progressing well and we're on track to hit that date,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

Development of the city centre is also being considered by the council's cross-party Local Plan working group which, the cabinet report adds, has been 'looking for opportunities to increase the efficiency of land uses' in a bid to meet government housing targets.

Draft plans drawn up by the council involve development surrounding a large central park.

'The development is designed to evolve around aspiring to be the most sustainable city district in the UK,' the report adds. 'It will knit into and support the local communities and provide substantial green open space for all.

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'It will be pedestrian and cycle led, with a revised transport network designed to improve air quality and the navigation within the city centre.'

Should the application be approved by the council's planning committee, construction could start as soon as 2024.

However, its finance director, Chris Ward said the council needed to 'maximise the income' from the site in the meantime and cabinet members will be asked to approve the production of a business case for interim measures when they meet on Tuesday.

'The [finance] team are currently working with consultants to devise a financially viable development on the various sites, this will also help to inform the need to acquire additional sites and the timing that those sites need to be acquired,' he said. 'Once again, the council need to appraise what the likely holding costs and income should be and the speed at which development could come forward before acquiring.'

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These efforts have already seen approval given for the indoor skatepark in the disused Sainsbury's store which is due to open in the coming months.

The council is also considering the use of some of the land for 'a possible urban tree nursery' which would allow trees to be grown to a semi-mature stage before being planted around the city.

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