THE decision to close off a popular route to Gunwharf Quays has prompted fears a local gallery could lose out.
A barrier now stops pedestrians walking from the Wightlink ferry terminal straight past the Aspex Gallery after residents raised concerns about recent car accidents.
The Gunwharf Quays Residents’ Association wrote to the owner of the land, Fairhold Athena Ltd, to suggest the walkway be blocked off because it leads to the entrance of a busy driveway.
Its chairman acknowledged Aspex may lose trade from people passing by, but said the safety of pedestrians had to be paramount.
Communications manager for the gallery, Gareth Colwell, said: ‘We are disappointed that the path has been shut.
‘It was a major route for people to reach us and we did rely on that access to attract people walking past.
‘But we have met the association and it has offered us some signs on the closed walkway, so hopefully people will be encouraged to walk around.’
Jonty Sexton, 58, of Highbury Street, Old Portsmouth, said the closure went against the spirit of the original plans for the site.
He said: ‘As a local resident and someone who frequently visits Gunwharf Quays, I find this heavy-handed exclusivity appalling – especially as it’s been executed without any public consultation.
‘If I were a director of the Aspex Gallery I’d be seething, because it’s now lost the majority of its footfall custom.’
The chairman of the residents’ association, Roger Sheam, said that it was ultimately the landowner’s decision to close the route.
He added that recently a couple of people had been run over and that children were sometimes seen running out in front of cars.
‘Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between roads and pavements,’ he said.