New hope for Portsmouth Northern Quarter plan as council looks to ditch developer and work up '˜plan B'

NEW life could finally be breathed into plans to create a multi-million pound Northern Quarter shopping complex in Portsmouth.

Sunday, 10th July 2016, 6:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:09 pm
CGI images of the Northern Quarter plans

Tory council leader Donna Jones is to consider severing a legally-binding deal with developer Centros to build the scheme off Market Way – which has been more than a decade in the making – to allow another firm to get on board and come up with fresh plans.

The council has a contract with Centros, which has been updated over the years, to ensure it remained committed to the project.

But Cllr Jones says she wants to see a ‘plan B’ with bigger ideas and aspiration brought forward – given that Centros has never been able to progress its original plans, valued upwards of £300m.

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Should they part ways, the council would need to recover £450,000 from Centros, which it spent helping the firm draw up its proposals and provide professional advice.

A council report over the plans going before Cllr Jones at a meeting on Wednesday, says: ‘The council and Centros Portsmouth Partnership Ltd has sought to work together over an extensive period of time, but find that the opportunity to develop a scheme within the framework of the extant development agreement is not possible.’

Speaking to The News, Cllr Jones said: ‘The termination of the development agreement has been a long time coming.

‘This should have been done in 2013 by the previous council administration.

‘The scheme fell over in 2008 when the recession hit.

‘I feel now, that with my vision for the city, with the America’s Cup and a five-star hotel, and the Emirates Spinnaker Tower branding, we need something bigger.’

Cllr Jones says she would like to see the prospect of another developer coming up with a plan similar to the revamped Whiteley Shopping Centre, which she says is more open plan and inviting rather than an indoor shopping hub.

Cllr Jones added that the termination of the Centros deal does not affect her bid to get a new road system built in the city centre to improve traffic and attract investors.

Centros was originally set to create the road scheme as part of its plans, but that part of the deal was scrapped.

The council has put in a bid for around £30m to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership – which secures government money – to build the modern transport route leading into the heart of Portsmouth.