Portsmouth looks on the verge of a high-rise building boom, the council’s city development manager told Built Environment Networking’s recent event in the city.

Delivering the opening presentation at the Portsmouth Development Plans 2017 event, Claire Upton Brown said that the authority had to deliver up to 17,200 new homes in its local plan, which covers the period until 2034.

And due to the city’s tight boundaries, she said a large share of this development will have to be accommodated in the city centre where she said it was ‘inevitable’ that people will live in tall buildings.

“The city centre needs to play a far more significant role than in the post-war period.”

She also said that the focus of development in the city centre also needed to shift from retail to leisure uses, including better quality restaurants.

“The city centre has not developed as planned in the last plan period. People are using the internet and moving away from shopping in large department stores. We need to be mindful of how to create environments where people want to spend leisure time.”

Upton Brown said the council’s plan, which is currently out for public consultation, would also address the ‘council’s ‘significant residential’ stock dating back to the 1950s.

“Some of these neighbourhoods will need to be redefined and regenerated, which will create significant opportunities for city,” said that his company’s plans to redevelop the former offices of insurer Zurich tied into the council’s plans to boost Portsmouth city centre.

Peter Tisdale, managing director of the THAT Group, said the company was due to submit plans this week for a mixed-use scheme for 147 apartments, 224 hotel rooms and four floors of offices that will be occupied by THAT‘s own workspace business.

The scheme will also boast a skybar on the roof and bars and restaurants on the ground floor, while the 19th floors will be occupied by the company’s own events arm.

In addition, the scheme will recreate links between Guildhall Square, where the city council’s headquarters is located, and the rest of the city centre.

“We will try to bring life back to the city centre where retail is struggling.”

He also told the event that the company’s plans to redevelop the Bournemouth Echo’s office echo building in the neighbouring south coast city are due to go out to public consultation next month (October).

And in London, THAT is taking forward the redevelopment of the head offices in King’s Cross of fashion retailer Ted Baker.

Shaun Adams, chief executive officer of the National Regional Property Group, said that his company was also focusing its acquisitions in Portsmouth in the city centre including plans for the city’s first build to rent development.

This will be housed in a 300 to 400-unit tall building, which he said would be a “significant investment into the city centre.”

Within the city centre, he said that the company was about to deliver the first phase, comprising 108 units, of a 280 private rented apartment development on the site of a former fruit and vegetable warehouse.

He said that the scheme, which also includes 900 sq m of commercial floor space, is due to be completed in 2018.

He also outlined National Regional’s plans for the Fraser Royal Navy artillery testing range, a 28-acre site on the east side of the city. He said was planning to bring forward 131 private flats for sale on the site.

Fiona Bell, director of estates & campus Services at the University of Portsmouth, said that the first phase of the institution’s 10 to 12-year estate masterplan was due to be delivered with new sports facilities and the redevelopment of the former Victoria Baths by 2020.

She said that consultants had already been appointed for the sports development and that the university would be holding an international design competition for the redevelopment of the defunct Victoria Baths site, where she said there was potential for a tall building of ‘international significance’.