THE city council is seeking to buy the largest office complex in Portsmouth in a bid to boost jobs and the local economy.
Next week councillors will vote on whether to purchase the 120 acre Lakeside North Harbour site in Cosham, including its offices, retail, car park and the nearby Village Hotel and Porsche garage.
The move will require a loan and 35 year payment plan but council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson explained that profit was not the priority. 'It will make us some money but that is not the primary reason for doing this,' he said.
'We will be in control of the largest business complex in Portsmouth and will be able to look at how it will develop in the future. We can produce plans to create more jobs and make sure we are helping with the development of the city.
'The office market for Portsmouth is in Lakeside. Most of the offices have moved out of the city centre.'
There would be potential for new businesses and offices to be built on site, with 8.7 acres free for development.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: 'We are building this for my successor and the next generation. If we rely on what the government send us in terms of money we would not have enough.'
Currently around 4,000 people work on the site, which is owned by the North Harbour Unit Trust.
Tory leader Cllr Donna Jones believed that the plans were 'interesting', however, branded Cllr Vernon-Jackson a 'hypocrite' for his previous stance on property investment.
She commented: 'The Lakeside proposal is an interesting site for Portsmouth City Council for a number of reasons. Firstly it is the only Grade-A office accommodation in the city, and by owning and controlling the site, the council will be able to help shape other sites in the city such as the city centre.
'Secondly, it is a good standard of office accommodation with a high occupancy rate that offers a level of security for the landlord.
'Whilst I welcome to opportunity to consider the purchase of Lakeside, I find the utter hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats, in particular Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jakson, lamentable. When the Conservatives set up the property investment portfolio in 2015, Cllr Vernon-Jackson and the Lib Dems lambasted us for having the foresight to generate new income for the city. In fact he actually said that if they got in they would consider “selling everything we purchased”.
'Now, here we are four years later and he hasn’t just kept the property we purchased, he is reaping the income it generates and adding to the portfolio further by considering the largest single purchase of the lot.'
A decision will be made by full council on June 17.