By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas
FOUR years after it closed, a formal decision on plans for the redevelopment of the former Gosport police station in South Street is expected in the autumn.
JP Developments proposes to demolish the existing building and replace it with 88 affordable one, two and three-bedroom flats plus a flexible commercial space on the site which lies in between South Street, Thorngate Way and South Cross Street.
The planning application was submitted at the end of July 2019 and Jim Bevan of Savills admits it has been a complex process which has included amending the original plans in the light of comments from the council, consultees and the public.
He told The Globe: “The design amendments have focussed on creating more visual interest within the building’s cladding to break up the street elevations and create more visual interest/activity at street level.
“Alongside that we have prepared an updated Transport Statement detailing how the comments of the highway authority and council have been addressed, most notably in respect to parking.”
And he is now able to add: “We are in continuing dialogue with [Gosport Borough Council] Officers and hope for the application to be heard at September’s Regulatory Board.”
Concerns about car parking
Parking for residents’ vehicles is one of the elements which has received a great deal of attention because the planning statement which accompanied the application recognises the proposed 49 parking spaces within the site is well below the 105 spaces – including provision for visitors – suggested by Gosport Borough Council’s car parking guidelines.
However, the developers argue many fewer parking spaces are required for a development of affordable flats in a town centre location with easy access to amenities and public transport’ and having nearby car parks for visitor parking.
In response to a request by the borough council planners, surveys were carried out at two similar developments – one in Fareham and the other in Fratton, Portsmouth – and found there were spare spaces for residents’ vehicles within the sites’ parking areas.
‘Set the standard for future developments
along South Street’
The developer’s initial plan for the site – presented in March 2018 in what is called a ‘pre-application’ – was to construct 142 flats plus commercial space in a building with a maximum of ten storeys.
This contravened the then recently-agreed Gosport Waterfront and Town Centre Supplementary Planning Document which stipulated the former police station site could, “include a taller building with variable height (3-6 storeys)” and would potentially, “set the standard for future developments along South Street.”
‘Measurably over-develops the site, and fails to meet
the vision of the borough in the quality of the design’
The plan now is for a building of variable heights but with one part being eight storeys high.
Among those unconvinced is The Gosport Society which in its latest letter of objection states the proposed building, “measurably over-develops the site, and fails to meet the vision of the borough in the quality of the design on a specified key site in the Gosport and Waterfront Town Centre SPD, on South Street”.
The planning application, together with accompanying documents and comments from consultees and the public, is available on Gosport Borough Council’s website at: publicaccess.gosport.gov.uk/online-applications using the planning reference 19/00483/FULL
Revised planning statement
These documents include a revised planning statement submitted last Wednesday – July 14 – which has in red ink on the contents page: “Rev 01 – References to Vivid Homes Removed (14/07/21)”.
VIVID Housing Limited is a registered provider of social housing and has been very much involved with the development of Alver Village in Gosport.
The revised planning statement is still dated August 2019 but Gosport Borough Council informed the Globe it was usual for a planning application to be revised 22 months after the original was submitted if the applicant requests it, and the council had been informed in January 2020 that Vivid Homes was not involved in the planning submission.
When contacted by The Globe, Mike Shepherd, VIVID’s Group Development and New Business Director said: “VIVID is not involved in the redevelopment of the former South Street Police Station. Reference to VIVID Homes in the planning statement was included in error and has since been removed.”
A letter – dated June 10, 2021 – from Savills summarising amendments which had been made to the plans and some of the technical work undertaken, states: “The applicant is not currently in contract with an affordable housing provider and will go out to the market post-planning consent.”
The borough council also said: “Like all proposed residential developments of more than 10 units, this scheme is covered by a requirement that a proportion of affordable housing is included.”
Image: impression looking east to the corner of South Street and Thorngate Way. Reproduced with permission from Savills.