The design watchdog said the retail-led, mixed-use Northern Quarter scheme, which will stand on the site of Owen Luder's now-demolished 1960s concrete mall (pictured), need to be simplified and given a more ‘unified architectural language’.
According to the commission’s review panel: ‘We think the scheme would benefit from a reduction in the number of architectural concepts… and would be strengthened if some common elements were identified; continuity could be achieved, for example, through materials, building heights or window proportions.'
The report continues: ‘[We] would encourage the design team to simplify the elevational treatment and recommend that the local authority attach to any approval robust conditions [to the reserved matters application] covering external materials, environmental strategy and the quality of residential courtyards in particular.’
However, project architect James McCosh of vHH thinks CABE has been ‘slightly unfair’.
McCosh said: ‘They have an opinion, but the development is a reaction to the Tricorn – a disaster for the city – which was monolithic, enclosed and an island.
‘This is trying to put back into a city something which has the variety similar to something which has grown up over 100 years. You will see more variety on the neighbouring Commercial Road, the remaining part of the historic city.’
Developer Centros already has outline permission for the 96,000m2 project – which includes 80 shops and 200 homes – as well as detailed permission for a John Lewis store.
Yet in recent weeks the local press has reported that fears are growing about the financial viability of the whole development in the current economic climate.
Portsmouth paper The News wrote that ‘no major cinema chain or four-star hotel will sign up to the project’ and that ‘no major shops apart from John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have put their names to the scheme’.