Campaigning mum hails plans to turn Walkabout into a Sainsbury’s store

ALL CHANGE Walkabout in Guildhall Walk is set to become a Sainsbury's. Inset, Ann Bartlett
ALL CHANGE Walkabout in Guildhall Walk is set to become a Sainsbury's. Inset, Ann Bartlett
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THE mother of a sailor who was fatally punched in a nightclub has welcomed the news it could reopen as a shop.

Planning and alcohol applications have been put in to transform Hippodrome House, in Guildhall Walk, into a Sainsbury’s store.

Ann Bartlett

Ann Bartlett

The building was formerly a Walkabout bar, but closed last year when the company went into administration.

Twenty-one-year-old sailor Kyle Bartlett, died after a fight at the bar in May, 2009.

His mum Ann Bartlett has been campaigning against alcohol-fuelled violence and said she was happy there could be one less nightclub in Guildhall Walk.

‘It can only be a good thing,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t want to see that building opening as something like a nightclub after my son was killed there.

‘Somewhere to shop would be better than somewhere else to drink – Portsmouth already has plenty of places for people to drink.’

Mrs Bartlett, 52, from Bordon, added that she thought having so many bars in one place was a mistake. She said: ‘I can see what the aim is – trying to keep all the trouble in one area.

‘But I don’t agree that it’s a good idea.

‘I haven’t been there in a while but I think the licensees in Guildhall Walk are taking better ownership of what goes on there. And there is more CCTV than there used to be.

‘Things have calmed down quite a lot as far as I can see.’

Hippodrome House briefly reopened under the name Stadium, but now sits empty after that bar closed.

City council Lib Dem cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Aiden Gray, said he thought the change could help the area lose its bad reputation.

‘I can’t say if the application will definitely be approved,’ he said.

‘But giving Guildhall Walk a more diverse mixture of shops, bars and restaurants would definitely be a positive step.’

If it receives permission from Portsmouth City Council’s licensing and planning committees it will serve alcohol from 7am to 10pm seven days a week.

Claire Matthews, 37, lives nearby in Kent Street and said she was concerned about another shop selling alcohol in the road.

‘It doesn’t have to be one or the other,’ she said.

‘Do we really want our city centre completely dominated by drinking?’

Representations can be made to the Civic Offices or at portsmouth.gov.uk until September 4.