TIpner West: £50million more needed to continue key Portsmouth regeneration project to create new homes and business space

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Portsmouth City Council needs to secure funding of at least £50m to continue the Tipner West regeneration project.

Councillors at a recent Portsmouth City Council meeting delved into the challenges affecting the Tipner West development and the construction of sea defences where the discussions highlighted key issues such as financial viability and environmental regulations that are hindering the project’s progress. If given the green light, the scheme could provide a between 814 and 1,250 homes alongside at least 58,000sqm of marine-focussed employment space.

There are two land use options currently under consideration, with both options differing in their approach to safeguarding the site, which boasts various environmental and ecological protections. Option B, involving construction on protected sites, presents a viability gap that is only half of that in option A. A previous cabinet report indicated that the lowest funding gap among the options is estimated to be around £50m.

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If the master planning work is delayed beyond Autumn 2024 it’s estimated that £150,000 will be required every month. It adds the council’s chief executive will engage with central government to explore further funding opportunities to close these viability gaps. Due to the project’s anticipated harm to SPA/Ramsar sites, the council will have to carry out a process of derogation. This would ensure that the harm caused to the sites is “fully compensated for”. The council will need to demonstrate that the compensation will fully offset the damage caused to the sites and “provided prior to any impact taking place”.

Aerial view of the Tipner West site as it is currently. Photo: © Strong IslandAerial view of the Tipner West site as it is currently. Photo: © Strong Island
Aerial view of the Tipner West site as it is currently. Photo: © Strong Island

Councillor Lee Hunt, the cabinet member for resources, commented on the project’s initial excitement, which began with the City Deal in 2013. “Everyone was very excited about it and since then it’s kind of been bogged down in politics, people manoeuvring to their own advantage and it’s held it up,” he said. “Then we had Covid and the cost of living crisis which is sending the price of everything that’s needed to build homes upwards.

“It really is so important that these sea defences get built – the funding for that comes with the delivery of the City Deal. Sea defences around the Stamshaw and Tipner are as important as anywhere else and they’re in a shoddy state of repair.”

Cllr Hugh Mason underlined the sentiment, stating the current sea defences “are in a very parlour state and whatever happens we must get on with dealing with them”.

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The leader of the council, Cllr Steve Pitt stressed that both options will “impact nature” but they’re bound by a tight regulatory process that has to provide an “overall benefit to the network of European sites”. “It is impossible in law for this scheme to go forward and deliver net harm overall,” he added.

“Wherever we end up, we make sure that there is overall full compensation and some for any harm that is caused to any natural resources as part of this.”