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Residents have three choices as vast swathe of Portsmouth faces demolition - images

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The heart of Portsmouth city centre is facing the wrecking ball to make way for a series of residential tower blocks.

Urban designer Terence O'Rourke has worked up three options to regenerate the run-down Somers Town quarter of the city, built in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The most expensive scheme - estimated to cost £500 million - would see around 800 existing homes demolished and replaced with 2,411 private and council-owned flats and houses. The development would be characterised by tower blocks of between three to eight storeys.

A less dramatic proposal involves bulldozing 540 homes and building nearly 1,800 new homes arranged around landscaped squares, open spaces and play facilities.

In both cases, a much-needed 'community hub', with a health centre and a residents' centre, will be incorporated into the masterplan.

The cheap option - minus the community facilities - means limited demolition of existing offices and warehouses and a relatively modest development of 179 new homes.

Somers Town residents are being invited to comment on the three choices this summer. But no matter which scheme goes ahead, the initiative will create enormous disruption in the city centre and mean rehousing hundreds of residents.

The ambitious regeneration push is being driven by Somers Town Community Board which says the proposals would fill in much of the dead space around the huge housing estate.

'This project is challenging and has massive potential as a key link between the city centre and Southsea. The options have yet to be finalised and no finance is in place as yet,' said regeneration project co-ordinator, Bev Lucas.

'[Somers Town] is a big population with many different views. We have developed three options rather than a single masterplan to show flexibility and give people choice,' she added.

by Clive Walker

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