Rally is planned over controversial Â£7m Southsea hotel revamp
CITY planning chiefs have pledged to '˜rigorously interrogate' information on a controversial Â£7m revamp proposal for a landmark hotel site after a petition was launched.
Plans to create a new 38-home, eight-storey building next to the Queen’s Hotel in Southsea are set to be debated by councillors tomorrow.
Built in Clarence Parade by the owners of the Queen’s Hotel, the new building would not include any affordable homes.
Instead, planning officers have recommended councillors to approve the development – so long as a £333,043 contribution is made to the city’s coffers which will help pay for affordable homes elsewhere.
The move has sparked a petition by Portsmouth’s Labour party, backed by more than 500 people, which calls on the council to stop developers ‘sidestepping’ obligations to provide affordable housing.
Councillor Steve Pitt, who sits on Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee, said the group would be scrutinising all the documents at tomorrow’s meeting.
He said: ‘We will be rigorously interrogating all the information that has been presented to us to make sure we make the right decision for the city.’
Planning permission to develop the site was granted in 2012. A previous application to convert the top floors of the Queen’s Hotel into 30 flats, alongside a 30-home block, was also granted.
A consortium behind the latest plan – that will include the hotel’s partial conversion – said including affordable housing would not make it viable.
However, Labour campaigner Claire Udy, who represents Charles Dickens Ward, is against allowing the plan through in this way.
She said: ‘This is yet another developer who seeks to not provide this city with the housing we so desperately need.
‘We need this administration to finally stand up for the people they represent and insist they are not allowed to simply write a cheque.
‘I know only too well the ward I seek to represent has the highest rate of child poverty in the city, that’s why I’ll be fighting for this vital affordable housing to be kept in the development.’
The petition will be submitted to the planning committee before the meeting. Those backing it are also being urged to join a rally tomorrow outside the Civic Offices, in Guildhall Square, at 12.15pm. To sign the petition, see goo.gl/VNry9P.