SOUTHSEA seafront is a step closer to becoming the home of a one-of-a-kind D-Day craft after councillors voted in favour of its installation.
The 183-ft vessel, known as the LCT 7074, is the only surviving landing craft tank from D-Day in the world and could take pride of place beside the D-Day Story museum.
If work goes ahead the boat will become part of the D-Day Story, with visitors able to step inside the vessel.
On Wednesday Portsmouth city councillors agreed unanimously to the display of the craft outside the museum, as well as the construction of columns and a canopy to protect it, in time for the 75th D-Day anniversary.
Eight nearby trees, which were planted as part of a 12-tree memorial, and a lamppost will also need to be moved to make way for the craft.
But the removal of the trees was a sticking point for most councillors.
Chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Hugh Mason, said: ‘It seems that we have a major decision to make today. First is it the right location for the LCT?
‘And then there’s the relocation of a major memorial. We will need advice on the species and the eight trees.’
Cllr Ken Ellcome added: ‘I would like to see the 12 trees preserved, but they are incidental compared to the craft.
‘It is a really exceptional project. It’s a fantastic use of this remarkable boat. To me this is the only place it can be.
‘It is part of the D-Day story. It is the only one left in the world and it is right that it should be here in Portsmouth on the seafront with all the other naval attractions.'
Officers confirmed that the eight holm oak trees would be replanted elsewhere on the common and new ones would be planted to replace the memorial.
And the council’s boss for culture, Cllr Steve Pitt, explained that work would need to begin soon. ‘It is pressing. The work needs to begin fairly promptly,’ he said.
‘The Heritage Lottery Fund are about to make a decision on funding and if we don’t give permission that might change their mind.’
In total the project is estimated to cost £5.6m with £4.5m needed from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The council has already contributed £84,000 with the remainder of the funds to be raised by the project’s lead, The National Museum of the Royal Navy.
If all funding is awarded work will begin to remove the trees this autumn and it is proposed that the craft could be installed a year later.