Savoy Buildings Site – An Email To Portsmouth City Council Planning Department

Consultation for the Savoy Building site is currently underway and will be drawing to a close soon. I strongly urge you to write to the planning department to voice your concerns about this proposed site.

The proposed building Savoy Buildings site development. This image copyright McCarthy and Stone.
The proposed building Savoy Buildings site development. This image copyright McCarthy and Stone.

The email to write to is:

Please put the planning application reference in the subject line as follows:

Application Reference: 14/00790/FUL Site Of Savoy Buildings & Savoy Court

Here is my email to the planning department.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to object to the planned McCarthy and Stone building on the site of the old Savoy Courts building, for the following reasons:

1) Despite McCarthy and Stone’s assurances that the building is “in keeping” with others along the seafront, it is vastly at odds with the design of the buildings around it. It is a large, square, brutal structure that will dominate that part of the seafront and does not reference any of the vernacular around it, this despite McCarthy and Stone’s assertions to the contrary.

2) In their public consultation, McCarthy and Stone claim to have been sensitive to the original line of the building and the “curve” of the boundaries. This is untrue. The original building was set back by three metres or so from the boundary of the property. It had a gathering area and large set of steps up to the building. The effect of the building being pushed forward to the boundary is to oppress and dominate that part of the seafront.

3) This part of the seafront requires special attention and deserves better architecture since it is central to tourism in the area. Pretty architecture and the general lived experience of the streets is one of the things that draws people to Southsea.

It is vital that you make this site look right. Southsea has an attractive and nearly intact Victorian / Edwardian seafront, with a few jarring exceptions. Maintaining that aesthetic will serve Southsea better in the long run.

4) The number of parking spaces have been worked out as per “the average” for a building of this type, according to Councillor Will Purvis when he spoke at the Public Consultation about this.

However, this is not an “average” location. On a hot summer’s day, the elderly residents will be visited by numerous family members keen to spend a family day on the beach and hoping to avail themselves of the free parking the site may offer. Expect overspill on the surrounding streets.

5) I have set up the following petition on 38 degrees as evidence of local feeling against the current plans.

For the sake of balance, I also set up a petition approving it, here:

You will see that there is a vast difference in number between those in favour and those not. I set up both petitions at the same time, and advertised them equally, allowing them to then spread by word of mouth.

Local feeling is very strongly against this development as it stands. Please help to protect Portsmouth from a dreadful mistake.

Thank you,

Matthew Wingett


  1. Stephen Parkes

    Points very well made Matt. For me the proposed edifice has all the appeal of a Soviet style apartment block very much out of the school of social realist architecture! This is a hideous incongruity completely out of keeping with the sweep of buildings along the sea-front and needs a complete re-think. How dare PCC even consider visiting this monstrosity on us. Then again PCC has had form for over 50 years – they sanctioned the building of the little lamented Tricorn for gawd’s sake. As a counter-point, just in case readers may think I am coming from some knee-jerk, inherently conservative stand-point, I was a big supporter of the Spinnaker Tower at its conception and still regard it with great pride while I also support the possible Ben Ainslie Camber Dock development. My gripe with this proposed development is the absence of any sympathy with the local built environment. Certainly a touch of elegance and balance with its surroundings rather than this exercise in brute monolithism wouldn’t go amiss here.

  2. Post

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for that. I agree with what you say, except for one major point, which is a common misunderstanding of people who don’t understand the planning system.

    The fact is, the Council have very few powers to refuse this building, which is why signing a petition and presenting it to them is on the one hand so very important, and on the other hand could be seen as a waste of effort.

    Firstly, this land is privately owned. It is not owned by the Council. Which means that all the Council can do is respond to proposals for what might be built there. Their reasons for refusing it are extremely limited by statute. If they can’t find a strong legal reason to refuse it, then it has to be accepted. The power is in the hands of the developers. Actually, the opinion of local residents is almost irrelevant, although it might act as a spur to the Council to find a legal reason for it not to be built.

    And even if they do refuse it, McCarthy and Stone have form for appealing to Westminster. They did this recently in Drayton when their plans were rejected by PCC. The fact is that Eric Pickles hardly ever refuses permission. This is the big farce of the Tory policy of “localism” – and that is why in some ways this petition is important. Because if this building does get built in the face of opposition from local residents, it reveals the massive democratic deficit at the heart of the planning system.

    Local people don’t count. This is why I object to the current setup so very strongly.

    Now, why this important site was left out of the seafront masterplan is an interesting question – but because the site is not included in any council policy documents, there is very little leverage for the Council to use to refuse it.

    It’s shocking. As I say, I hope this monstrosity highlights exactly that deficit.

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