COUNCILLORS set to debate whether owners of a hotel should be able to drop cheaper homes at a development have reacted with fury after the item was pulled from a meeting today.
Planning bosses were due to debate whether or not the council would allow the Queen’s Hotel owners to ditch affordable housing at two new blocks near the hotel and when they convert the top floors to apartments in a £7m scheme.
Protests are set to take place outside the Civic Offices, in Portsmouth Guildhall, today.
This morning, just hours before the planning meeting was due to get underway, developers pulled out, a councillor said.
There are now fears the decision could now be made by a regional inspector in Bristol instead.
Councillor Steve Pitt, who sits on the planning committee, has blasted the move.
The Liberal Democrat councillor said: ‘This is disgusting. It’s been the Liberal Democrats’ view for a long time that planning control in Portsmouth should always reside locally – not be decided by an inspector in Bristol.
‘I’m angry because it seems like they are trying to side-step the planning process in Portsmouth.’
Cllr Pitt claimed councillors had raised their concerns over the application with planning officers at a heated meeting yesterday.
But he said he received a call at about 9am today saying the item for the meeting had been pulled.
‘The applicant has run off to the regional inspector, citing “non-determination”,’ he claimed.
‘He is saying that the council is taking too long to decide the decision.
‘It seems like someone is taking a last roll of the dice.’
As previously reported, planning officers had recommended councillors to approve the plan to drop the cheap homes – so long as a £333,043 contribution is made to the city’s coffers which will help pay for affordable homes elsewhere.
Planning permission to develop the site was granted in 2012.
A previous application to convert the top floors of the Queen’s Hotel into 30 flats, alongside a 30-home block, has also previously been granted.
The News has attempted to contact the owner.