Portsmouth City Council agrees compulsory purchase order for swathe of city centre land for New Landport regeneration project
MAJOR redevelopment plans for Portsmouth city centre have moved forward after councillors approved a compulsory purchase order for the site.
The New Landport project, formerly known as City Centre North, has stalled for years due to a series of failed deals, prompting the council to step in.
Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the authority would now be able to control 'almost all' of the site north of Commercial Road.
Studies have estimated the land could be used to build 5,000 to 6,000 homes alongside significant space for other commercial and community uses.
The council has since been negotiating to buy land owned by the investor, separately to the compulsory purchase order.
But a council report said the acquisition of the remaining plots was a 'critical' risk to the entire project and that these powers were needed.
SEE ALSO: Hundreds attend beach protest against sewage
These plots include Tropics, The Real Escape and The Star of Asia with the Sainsbury's site having already been bought earlier this year.
'The potential to use powers of compulsory acquisition is considered to be an essential backstop to facilitate delivery of the scheme in line with the council's intended programme,' it said.
It added that the cost of this was likely to be 'significant' but that a final figure is not yet known.
Approval of the compulsory order was given by councillors at Wednesday's full council meeting but their discussions were not held confidentially for commercial sensitivity reasons.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the order was necessary to avoid the scheme faltering again.
‘The Tricorn site is owned by Centros but there are various people who own bits of land around it and we would need control of that if we are going to do a comprehensive development of it,' he said. 'The use of a compulsory purchase order would make sure we are not held to ransom by any of these which could derail the whole project.’
He said the order area included both St Agatha's and All Saints churches but that the council had 'no intention' of buying either and that they only needed to be covered to allow construction to be carried out on the wider site.