A NEW bid to kickstart the construction of a multi-million pound 554-homes scheme on Portland that stalled in the recession has been revealed.
There are fresh moves to complete the Ocean Views luxury flats – the former Hardy complex of naval accommodation off Castle Road – 10 years after it was originally approved by planners.
But the new owners want to drop the affordable homes part of the deal to make it viable – a move criticised by community leaders who say the island needs housing.
During original works, one block was converted with 39 flats sold and moves were made to prepare another block before developers Rossmark Properties, linked to the Comer Homes Group, went into administration during the recession and the land was taken over by the banks in 2011.
The site has been purchased by Fulca Ltd, also part of Comer Homes, which wants to restart the development, a mixture of converted accommodation and new-build flats.
Fulca says a substantial amount has already been spent on the scheme including community contributions.
It argues that new unforeseen costs to do with the condition of the site – including a multi-million pound bill for stabilising a slope – and a downturn in the housing market means it cannot afford to make any more developer obligations as it will ‘worsen an already unviable scheme’.
It is asking Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to remove the affordable housing obligations made in 2004 – providing 30 units to a housing association and a paying a sum to the council for homes off-site.
Fulca admits in its application it will be forced to accept a financial loss on the site ‘in order to restore the good name of the Comer Group locally’.
Councillors at a planning meeting tomorrow are being recommended to reject the modification as officers believe the project would still be financially viable if it was to include affordable homes.
- The planning and traffic committee will be held in the Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room on Tuesday, August 19, rather than at the council offices due to the anticipated level of interest.
It starts with site visits from 9am and the committee will reconvene at the Pavilion at 11am to consider matters on the agenda.
This includes Ocean Views, and a plan to create a new home for Weymouth Football Club at Lodmoor.
Members of the public who wish to attend should arrive at the Pavilion from 10.30am onwards.
Housing crisis on isle
BOROUGH councillor for Portland Penny McCartney said: “We have got a crisis in affordable housing on Portland.
“Housing developers can’t just say they won’t build them when there are over 2,000 people waiting to get some form of housing. It’s really unfair.
“If they want to put in luxury accommodation who do they think can afford to buy them? We have the second lowest income in the South West, outside Cornwall, so if local people can’t afford them who are they building them for?”
Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Kate Wheller welcomed the development at what she called an ‘eyesore’ site but urged the company to invest in local infrastructure.
She added: “The reduction of the affordable homes is also a real worry.”
Resident Andrew Cowling wrote to the council urging councillors to reject the modification.
He said: “It is obvious that there is a substantial shortage of affordable housing on Portland and this is unlikely to change unless these types of scheme provide what they originally guaranteed to do.”