New £22m tower block could be 'gateway' into Portsmouth city centre
A NEW 22-storey tower block could be a 'gateway' into the city centre and 'kickstart' further regeneration - but concerns have been raised about the affordability of the flats.
Plans for a £22m building on the site of the Shopmobility store in Station Street were unveiled at a public consultation last night (Jan 22) by Portsmouth City Council.
The block, which will be built by the council's development company Ravelin, will provide 76 rental flats with balconies and ground-floor commercial space if approved.
Adrian Legg, the council's property development project manager, explained why the site had been earmarked for a 'significant' project.
He said: 'When we sat down to speak with the planners they said this was a gateway into Portsmouth city centre and it was appropriate to have a building of significant size and appearance to welcome people in.
'We are building it as a signpost into the city. It sets a benchmark for the Post Office site in Slindon Street. Hopefully it will kickstart some regeneration.'
It is hoped all the flats will be marketed as affordable, however, this will not be confirmed until the block is built.
Councillor and housing campaigner Cal Corkery had some concerns. He said: 'The overall design and principal of the council taking control of a key bit of land and developing it itself is to be welcomed.
'The query I have at the moment is who will be living here and is it going to be the people in the greatest need who are on the waiting list or some other social group or a mix?'
Nikki Brooklyn, 34, who has run the Shopmobility store for 12 years agreed. She said: 'It would be nice if they were fully affordable because there are people in the third sector who are on minimum wage who can't pay what others can,' she said.
'I've been on the housing waiting list for 12 years and I've been sofa surfing for that time.
'I've read somewhere that these homes could be used by people commuting to London. These should be homes for Portsmouth people first.'
Work on the site will not begin until a new home is found for Shopmobility, officers said.
Southsea resident Stephanie Braithwaite, 74, added: 'It's good to get people living in city centres because it helps liven them up and could help businesses open including individual shops.
'But I would like to see the first people in are people on the housing waiting list.'
It is thought work will begin at the end of this year and be finished in 2022.