Queens Hotel revamp plan in '˜jeopardy' over affordable housing demands

OWNERS of a landmark hotel said its £7m revamp is in '˜jeopardy' if it has to include affordable housing at a development being built to fund the refurbishment work.

Thursday, 4th January 2018, 6:00 am
A computer generated imageI of the proposed eight-storey block adjacent to the Queens Hotel in Southsea. Picture: PLP Architects

Those behind the Queens Hotel in Southsea want to build a 38-home eight-storey building in Clarence Parade near the hotel.

Planning permission was granted in 2012 and permission was previously granted to convert the hotel’s top floors into 30 flats, together with a 30-home block.

Now a consortium, led by Farid Yeganeh has said the project would not be viable if they have to include 30 cheaper homes in the proposed new blocks and in the hotel.

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Instead, Portsmouth City Council planners have recommended councillors accept a £332,043 payment to the council.

Mr Yeganeh said: ‘It’s important that Portsmouth City Council accept the £300,000 in place of the social housing, otherwise it would put the hotel refurbishment and the entire project in jeopardy.’

Without the affordable homes in the eight-storey building the owners would make a surplus of £332,043. But the owners say if they include the affordable homes they would not make enough money for the project to go ahead.

A property expert has said the owners will make about £178,995 -a-year from ground rent from the new homes at the new block.

A letter to the council from Savills, representing the owners, said: ‘There would be no incentive for the landowner to develop out the adjoining site if it were to have to provide affordable housing and hence no funds would be available to assist the renovation of the hotel, which itself is not demonstrably viable’.

The letter added: ‘The applicant would not be incentivised to renovate the hotel with the development cost associated.’

Mr Yeganeh is looking to spend £7m on the hotel to spruce it up.

Yesterday the consortium confirmed it would go ahead with the plans, including putting apartments in the second, third and fourth floors of the hotel.

It comes after in October, councillors voted to fast-track planning applications if they had 30 per cent affordable housing. Cllr Steve Pitt, who proposed the idea said residents were being ‘ripped off’ by developers not including cheaper homes.

Now St Jude ward councillor Linda Symes has said it would be better to have the homes than force a developer to decide not to build because the scheme was not viable.

She said: ‘Planning permission has already been granted. What we have to do is get the best outcome.’

Cllr Symes added: ‘We’re building the highest number (of affordable homes) in the country.

‘I believe that’s 158 affordable homes and I think that’s a trade off.

‘We’re trying to do our best for both sections of the community.’

Gavin Hall, from Savills, added ‘the provision of affordable housing on either site is not possible’ and that by allowing the owners not to build affordable housing ‘the council is securing the renovation’.

Councillors meet next Wednesday to debate the proposal.