One of the city’s most prominent derelict buildings – in Portsea – could be about to be converted into flats. Located opposite the main entrance to Gunwharf, Brunel House was built back in the 1960s and was used by the Ministry of Defence.
Many residents on the doorstep have raised with me their concerns about it being unsightly at a gateway to the city and a safety risk. It has been empty for quite some time. Now the owner is giving the council notice of their intention to divide it up into 242 flats.
A year ago the building was the subject to a planning application for what would have been Portsmouth’s tallest building. It was refused primarily on economic grounds – the tower would have dominated the area, but this harm could have been outweighed by the benefit of getting (say) a hotel instead of the student rooms proposed for the lower floors.
The council has received a ‘Prior Notification’ for the conversion of the building.
It is important to note that this is not a planning application – a couple of years ago, the government changed the rules so that existing office space can be converted to housing without the need to obtain consent. Owners still have to get council sign off over contaminated land, flooding and traffic impact, but otherwise they are free to do what they want.
The submission documents are all dated January 2015, so this plan has clearly been kicking around for some time even though it has only been lodged this month.
To find out more visit the council’s planning portal: the application reference number is 16/00003/PACOU