IT could have been a striking 39-storey skyscraper overlooking The Hard – but now it looks likely to remain an ‘ugly eyesore’.
Brunel House, a disused 12-storey office building, was the subject of plans for the ambitious ‘Portsmouth Shard’ project in 2012.
It needs to be developed as soon as possible but it would be wholly inappropriate to put students in there. It should be used for high residential development with a hotel at the bottomCouncillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Those plans were eventually rejected in 2015 as councillors believed the design was not in keeping with the area.
Then the owner brought forward contentious plans to squeeze 242 micro-flats into the eyesore building.
But The News now understands that these plans could be scrapped, with the building said to be in a ‘dire state’.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We have been given a lot of information that the building itself is in a dire state, with fires occurring regularly.
‘It needs knocking down and developing, you simply cannot put flats in there.’
Leslie Zucker, director of London-based property firm City Estates, owns the building.
According to the Tory council leader, work to convert the disused building into flats has now stalled, with Mr Zucker keen to sell the site on.
The council has refused to rule out buying the building via compulsory purchase order, but Cllr Jones admits any deal would run into the ‘tens of millions’ and take around 18 months to complete.
She revealed that through the council she had acquired two offers from developers keen to develop the site, but that both had been rejected.
Cllr Jones added: ‘It’s a stalemate situation at the moment and I am deeply, deeply frustrated by it.
‘It needs to be developed as soon as possible, but it would be wholly inappropriate to put students in there.
‘It should be used for residential development with a hotel at the bottom.
‘It is an ugly eyesore at the moment, but I believe it to be the number one development site in the city.’
Stephen Morgan, Labour ward councillor for Charles Dickens, said: ‘The building has been gutted, but work is now on hold. It is frustrating as the council is spending millions on The Hard and we’ve got this big, ugly eyesore.
‘The council needs to do more to find a solution and a CPO could be an option. We need to apply more pressure on the owner in order to help speed things up.’
Mr Zucker was unavailable for comment.