New development on Debenhams site Portsmouth city centre could include shops and homes
COUNCILLORS have welcomed plans for a former Debenhams site that could include retail and new properties - but have said any homes should be affordable.
As reported, an application has been made to demolish the department store in Commercial Road, which didn't reopen following lockdown.
Phil Salmon Planning Ltd, who will be acting as an agent for the developers, told The News if demolition is approved a 'mixed use' site will be built incorporating retail on the ground floor and other uses, including housing, on the first.
A statement from them said: 'The application to demolish the Debenhams building has been submitted in parallel with pre-application discussions for its replacement with planning and regeneration officers at the city council.
'We are currently working up exciting development proposals for the site, that extends to Station Street and includes the car park, that we believe will kick start the regeneration of the city centre.'
Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the development could help the council meet its housing targets.
'It's very clear that the age of the department store has now gone and it's really important we don't have empty shops sitting around,' he said.
'We have been lucky in Portsmouth that we are getting new uses for the Debenhams in Southsea as well as Knight & Lee. There are BHS sites across the country that have sat empty for six or seven years.
'Government has told us we have to find space for 17,000 new houses in the city, which is far too many. We are going to have to find space for them, which means spaces in the city centre will be needed.'
However, ward councillor for the area, Cllr Claire Udy, wanted to make sure the homes were affordable for local people.
She said: 'My priority here is the residents of Charles Dickens, many who live in social housing and poverty. If we see housing, it needs to be social, and we need to include things that do not exclude residents because of their financial status.
'The gentrification of Commercial Road is one of the biggest threats to the community.
'As the days pass, the more I see things that spread the rich-poor divide further and with most developments of this ilk I am highly sceptical.'
Proposals for the site will be shared with residents through public exhibitions at future dates.