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Investment In Portsmouth

Over the past week we have heard announcements in the local press that Bouygues Development are looking to seek permission to demolish the eyesore that is Brunel House, and replace it with an impressive tower which has been nicknamed ‘Our Shard’. In addition there have also been reports about the investment which will be going into South Parade Pier by the new owners, and the residential development of the old Portland Hotel building on Kent Road. With all this exciting development I am half expecting to hear that someone will finally turn the the Northern Quarter of Commercial Road into the New Westfields.

Putting all cynicism to one side however, these projects would be fantastic for the city. The regeneration of The Hard and Portsea area over the past few years has been a real success, and this would continue this time of regeneration for our city. In my opinion the building looks brilliant and would enhance the already impressive Portsmouth skyline.

Bouygues Development’s plans consist of a forty storey tower which will include student accommodation, 329 residential properties and one floor of retail space. The development would see the demolition of Brunel House, Victory Public House, ‘City Wide Taxi’s’ building and former Ambulance Station.

To find out more you can view the planning application yourself HERE.

Brunel House Our Shard

We have all been waiting and hoping for some positive news about our beloved South Parade Pier. The consortium who have just taken over ownership of the pier, South Parade Pier Limited have announced their plan to develop the pier. The plans include a music venue, bars and restaurants however still maintaining traditional seaside pier attractions like the arcades and food kiosks.

A nice touch that excited me was the plan for a ferry service could also be set up to go between Gunwharf Quays.

With all of this in mind, I feel it is key to point out that we at Strong Island echo the thoughts of The South Parade Trust, who are a community organisation who were also looking to purchase the pier, they urge caution and want to see evidence of the investment required. If reports are to be believed the costs to restore the pier could reach between £3-5 million.

It’s still very early days and the owners will have to allow the full extent of the damage to be assessed before anyone can hope to see repairs begin. It may take a few years but let’s hope the future for one of Portsmouth’s oldest and most loved attractions is in good hands.

Catherine Taylor
Photo by Catherine Taylor

Todays Portsmouth News has featured the new development for the land opposite the pier. Take a look and you can make up your own opinions.


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  1. South Parade Trust is grateful for the support of many people in the Strong Island community, and we welcome our cautious approach being taken seriously as in the article above.
    The news item in Monday’s News only told us three things that were new, but they were significant:
    1. the “new owners” (who have exchanged but not yet completed contracts to buy, so are not actually owners at all) are set on resolutely hiding their identities behind a couple of front men. We ask why, when to reveal themselves as the saviours of the pier would be to become instant local heroes?
    2. the “new owners” told The News they still have to put funding in place. In other, simpler words: they do not have the money to save the pier. That is the most convincing answer to the question of why they are hiding their haloes from public scrutiny.
    3. their timescale for repairs goes well into next year — if they ever get the money. This plainly could well be too late for South Parade Pier, whose years of neglect finally took their toll when the February storms and high tides significantly weakened the pier and started a process of significant collapse which could continue to the catastrophic phase at any time.

    MONEY – THE BUSINESS CASE FACTS

    At South Parade Trust, we know from our own commercial studies that there is no business case which will repay a £3m-£5m investment in South Parade Pier to fully repair it, end to end.
    So the only way to fund the urgent end-to-end structural repairs needed is for a non-profit community trust to seek and win grants. To get grants, the pier must be available for us to buy. It was available briefly, in January, but currently it is not.
    Private profit-seeking companies cannot get grants to repair listed piers except from English Heritage who, alas, have no money left until some time in 2017 (and then they have a long list of good things to spend it on).
    So to believe in the full repair of the pier, we have to believe that the owners who admit they do not have sufficient money for repairs, and are seeking to make money, are going to put in £3m-£5m they will never get back. Quite literally, it doesn’t add up. That’s why we are certain that all of this talk about investment will never happen.
    So what are the “new owners” trying to do? For starters, could they have been enticed by PCC’s offer of a £100,000 grant towards repairs and optimistic view that the repairs won’t really cost all that much? Indeed, some very reliable sources in the know say the council is actually offering the anonymous “new owners” £300,000. Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson categorically denied the £300,000 figure when I challenged him on it yesterday. But he also told me he personally does not know the identity of the principal person among the “new owners” he is offering at least £100,000 of public money. Hard to believe, I know.
    At the Trust, we fear a direct attack on the pier structure as we know it in order to make the numbers work.
    We fear that the “new owners” will seek to revive the previous owners’ morally dubious but legal and workable plan to split the title of the pier into two companies. The company owning the easily maintained landward end of the pier including the fish and chip shop, bars, arcade and shops would be profitable if it didn’t have the repair costs at the high-maintenance seaward end.
    So the simple solution the previous owners’ came up with was to allow the seaward end simply to rot and fall into the sea, removing the onerous costs.
    In the process the pier our community has loved since 1879 would be destroyed but, Hey! That’s just business…
    That is what we would explicitly like to discuss with the shy “consortium”. Meanwhile, the city council has become mired in what can best be described as a fools’ conspiracy, dealing in secret with secret people whose real plans are secrets from the public but which only add up by first destroying South Parade Pier, if next winter’s storms don’t do it first. They could be counting on those storms to do their work for them, for all anyone knows.
    Because of the anonymity of the “new owners”, we do not know if the previous owners (who are still listed as the present owners on the Land Registry) are indeed part of the new “consortium”. We do however know that the council seems to be easing off on its legal action against the old and/or “new” owners while they continue to spin their unsubstantiatable promises of the investments and repairs they plan.
    However, the Portsmouth rumour mill has been spinning relentlessly with unanimous talk of one name leading the “new owners”… property developer Tommy Ware, who drives a Bentley with a personalised TW numberplate spotted several times recently parked by South Parade Pier. If Tommy Ware isn’t the “new owners”, it would be very easy for him to deny all those rumours… or for them to be denied by the new owners’ frontman, Mr. Lawrence Mendel of Waterfields Estate Agents in Southsea.
    A check on Mr. Ware on any publicly accessible internet financial information site, such as http://companycheck.co.uk/director/907808366 will reveal that Mr. Ware was or is a director of T & T Property Consultants Ltd. (dissolved just 19 months ago in October 2012); MEG Property Investments Ltd. (dissolved in February 2011); and also of T Ware Developments Ltd. (currently under an administrative receiver).
    So it is easy to deny, and not unreasonable to ask, if Tommy Ware is the unnamed “new owners” of South Parade Pier Ltd., of which his colleague Mr. Mendel is the sole director and the shareholders of which have not yet been disclosed on the Companies House website… and if this company really has any prospect of raising the £3m-£5m needed to repair the pier.
    The Company Check website records that “The combined cash at bank value for all businesses where Thomas [Ware] holds a current appointment equals £0, with a combined assets value of £342,640 and liabilities of £1,452,282. Roles associated with Thomas Ware within the recorded businesses include: Director.”
    Until the secrecy bubble is burst, and while Portsmouth City Council refuses to order repairs to South Parade Pier but is content to do deals in secret with hidden people of no proven financial commitment, there is every reason for the people of Portsmouth and Southsea to fear for the safety of our iconic and historic pier.
    South Parade Trust will shortly start an online petition calling for the council to make a listed buildings repairs order on the pier. The council has refused to do so since we first started asking for this two years ago… and look where that has got us!
    Leon Reis, Chairman, South Parade Trust. May 8th, 2014.

  2. PS: I omitted to mention that Mr. Mendel was or is company secretary of all three failed Tommy Ware property companies listed above.

  3. Ellis

    8 May

    They are developing the Northern Quarter as it goes
    http://www.northernquarter.info/

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