St James Hospital site developer PJ Livesey 'frustrated' at delay in deciding Portsmouth planning application
THE developer behind part of a major redevelopment project in Portsmouth has hit out at council delays in reaching a decision on it.
PJ Livesey said it was 'frustrated' at the time it was taking Portsmouth City Council to determine its scheme for St James' Hospital and that this was was prolonging the NHS' obligation to maintain the site at a cost of £1.6 million a year.
Council leader councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said this had been caused by the need for Homes England to revise plans for its part of the site.
PJ Livesey submitted its planning application at the beginning of last year, originally seeking permission to build 230 homes.
But at the end of 2020 it revised this, scaling back its ambitions to 204 homes.
The project has been met with strong resistance from local objectors, including campaign group Keep Milton Green which described the scheme as 'very disappointing'.
However, Historic England said it had 'no objection' to its plans.
And last month Portsmouth NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wrote to the council outlining its support for the sale of the site and its redevelopment.
'The Grade II-listed buildings at St James' Hospital are not suitable for the delivery of modern mental health services and the main block was mostly administrative with significant vacant and underutilised space,' it said.
'The proposed redevelopment is, as we understand it, in accordance with the Local Plan to provide much-needed housing in the city and was part of the consideration the CCG undertook before declaring the site surplus to health service requirement.'
The scheme is part of a wider project for the hospital site, which also includes an application submitted by Homes England for more than 100 homes.
The council said it would consider both applications together due to their close links.
But concerns have now been raised about the time it is taking the council to reach a decision after they were not put on the agenda for next week's planning committee meeting.
'We are frustrated that the proposals have not yet been determined but hopeful that they will be considered at the planning committee on September 29,' a PJ Livesey spokesman said.
They said this should have been done in June and that until a decision is reached and the sale of the land is confirmed, the NHS is continuing to pay £1.6 million a year in maintenance costs for the site.
Council leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who represents the Milton ward in which the site falls, said the decision had been delayed because of changes to the Homes England part of the overall development.
'It has been delayed to allow Homes England to revise its plans,' he said. 'One of those things that changed was that we made the decision that the whole site should be listed, not just the hospital buildings and the chapel.
'This has meant that Homes England has had to redesign its plans, including to keep the two Victorian villas and convert them, rather than demolish them.'
He added that considering both schemes together was 'a sensible approach'.
The council has yet to confirm a date for when the two applications will be determined.