Planning permission to build 40-storey student accommodation in The Hard is rejected

An artist's impression of how Brunel House could look
An artist's impression of how Brunel House could look
  • Plans rejected as it caused damage to heritage sites
  • Affordable housing needs to factor in the plans
  • Call made for council to buy the site
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PLANS to build a student accommodation tower block in the heart of Portsmouth’s historic sites have been turned down by councillors.

Members of Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee felt the 40-storey development in The Hard – dubbed Portsmouth’s Shard by some after the London tower – would not be in keeping with heritage buildings.

The council should now compulsory purchase the site and develop it with a better design

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson

It also felt converting the former Brunel House building into student living would not help the city to offer more affordable housing.

Cllr Aiden Gray, chairman of the board, said: ‘The main issues were it would have a serious impact on our heritage sites and Grade I and Grade II listed buildings. We are also desperate for affordable housing and that isn’t satisfied in this plan.

‘It’s not that the committee is against the site being redeveloped, but it’s making sure it’s the right development for the community and economy. We have refused this application and now it’s up to the developers to come up with a different plan.’

Planning permission had been given to Europa House earlier this year for the site to become an accommodation block for more than 260 students from the University of Portsmouth.

Planning permission was given in 2012 for the 18-storey empty office block to allow become a £10m hotel creating 36 jobs – but nothing materialised.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said if a developer could not come up with an appropriate plan then the council should seek a compulsory purchase order.

He said: ‘Because the design is so big and tall and lumpy as a building, it would do harm to the heritage site. It would over-shadow HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, and this building would be up for the next 150 years.

‘The design was poor and there needs to be affordable housing.

‘The council should compulsorily purchase the site and develop it with a better design.’