New setback for plans to revamp Somers Town

Fly-tipping in Harold Road. Picture: Andrew Pearce

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PLANS to regenerate one of Portsmouth’s most deprived areas have been hit by a new setback.

The team behind the Somers Town regeneration has sent its architects back to the drawing board to redesign a planned community hub over Winston Churchill Avenue.

Critics say it’s because drawings due to be submitted to Portsmouth City Council in the next couple of weeks looked like a ‘shed on a bridge’.

Cllr Steve Wemyss, leader of the council’s Tory group, said: ‘I was shown the drawings of the new centre and they were nothing like what had been shown to The News. The original scheme was a gleaming building crossing Winston Churchill Avenue, but what they handed in was a shed on a bridge. I’m as supportive of this scheme as anyone, and I want to see the right thing happening, but it’s taken years to get this far and we just have another delay.’

The hub, which is the third part of Somers Town regeneration’s £16.1m first phase, is to include a medical centre, youth club and community centre.

It was to be open by summer 2013, but members of the regeneration team admit that date will now be set back at least six months while new designs are drawn up.

Somers Town Regeneration manager Launce Morgan said: ‘It’s disappointing, as we set a date and wanted to meet it.

‘But we’ve looked again at the designs and because the hub will be a special focal point for the community for many years to come, we wanted it to be as good as it possibly can. This is not because there’s any problem with the scheme, just that we want to make improvements to make the hub’s designs even better than before. They will be submitted to planning officers in September and work will be completed by December 2013, we hope.’

Cllr Steven Wylie, the council’s leader for housing, added: ‘The team, including councillors, project board members and planning officers, took a look at the latest plan and decided it should be redone. We were to submit the designs in the near future, but we have told the architects we want something better.’