WORK to prepare commercial docks for a potential new base for Sir Ben Ainslie should be stopped until the project is officially given the green light, a council leader has warned.
The Olympic sailing hero is considering setting up a new home for his team at The Camber, in Old Portsmouth.
A planning application is still under consideration by Portsmouth City Council, but the council has already started work preparing the site.
Chief executive David Williams said the work is being done to make the site ready straight away if permission is granted.
But outgoing council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, says it is wrong.
‘It is not a good idea to do it before planning permission has been granted,’ he said.
‘It gives the impression a decision has already been made.
‘The process has to be fair and open and it has to be seen as fair and open.’
A letter was sent to those living near to The Camber, in East Street, Old Portsmouth, informing them of the work.
The letter said the work is not part of the planning application, but is connected to developing the site.
David Williams, Portsmouth City Council’s chief executive, said: ‘We understand residents’ concerns, and want to reassure them absolutely that no decision has been made regarding planning permission on The Camber.
‘The work currently taking place is to move council tenants so the land is ready straight away if permission is granted, and Portsmouth is chosen as the base.
‘However we will reconsider plans immediately if permission is refused or another location is chosen.’
Sir Ben’s racing team has not yet made a decision about where their base will be.
Ben Ainslie Racing already has permission for sites in Woolston and at ABP Docks in Southampton.
Jonathan Goring, the team base project director for Ben Ainslie Racing, said the work which has begun in Old Portsmouth is nothing to do with them.
‘We didn’t know anything about it,’ he said.
‘We have not instructed anything or begun any work.’
Mr Goring added that Ben Ainslie Racing would be meeting with neighbours in Old Portsmouth next week to discuss their views on the proposal.