Portsmouth campaigners will 'fight all the way' on St James' Hospital development

TENACIOUS city campaigners have warned they will 'fight all the way' to ensure developments for a potential 340 homes at least five years in the making is scaled back as much as possible.

Saturday, 16th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 16th November 2019, 6:00 am
St James' Hospital site. Picture: Paul Jacobs

Despite developers' attempts to appease Portsmouth residents by shrinking proposed house numbers and vowing to protect trees on the St James' Hospital site in Milton, neighbourhood champions have said it is still 'too much.'

The land has been earmarked for development as three separate applications.

One is for a 66-bed care home for Royal Navy veterans in the south of the site submitted by LNT Care Developments Ltd and one for 107 homes replacing the old Harbour School by Homes England.

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The other application from developers PJ Livesey Group has been subject to change following two public consultations.

Although it was initially thought there could be 300 homes there, the latest version includes 150 homes within the converted hospital building and another 80 in the grounds - of which 30 per cent will be affordable.

Vocal campaigners said they were 'very pleased' that PJ Livesey listened to concerns about the number of homes but said there were still a 'number of issues.'

Kimberly Barrett, the founder of Keep Milton Green, said: 'We will carry on fighting to make sure we get the best deal, we will fight all the way.

'We want to keep the home numbers as low as possible, although I don't think residents will ever feel there's an acceptable level of properties.

'The 340 new homes is too much. You think we've got around 4,500 households in Milton, that's quite a high percentage increase.'

Previous campaigning for the site meant St James' Park, the cricket pitch and 50 trees there were saved.

Janice Burkenshaw, chairman of the Milton Neighbourhood Forum, said: 'I think the Milton Neighbourhood Forum welcomes the open-mindedness of the developer in listening to our concerns and changing some of the plans.

'But that doesn't overcome the issues with traffic, with school provision, the lack of doctors surgeries.'

The forum will hold a meeting in February next year for residents, which PJ Livesey will attend to answer questions.

A decision on all three applications as yet to be made by Portsmouth City Council.

Leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'I still think they're asking to build too much and trying to build on space that should be open space.'

But PJ Livesey director, James Woodmansee, said: 'The scheme has changed following the useful responses we have received from the two consultation events we held and has also been improved from our dialogue with members, local groups such as Milton Neighbourhood Forum and Portsmouth City Council.'

St James' Hospital was sold to PJ Livesey by NHS Property Services subject to a planning application approval. The group will submit the application in December or January.

A neighbouring site - the former Langstone Campus for the University of Portsmouth - could also be subject to housing development in the future.