Portsmouth could set aside £8m for new city centre road network

The city road scheme could get the Northern Quarter shopping plan back on track
The city road scheme could get the Northern Quarter shopping plan back on track
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MILLIONS of pounds could be put into a fund in a fresh attempt to trigger the creation of a new road system leading into Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

Portsmouth City Council is considering setting aside £8m from its upcoming capital budget – taxpayers’ cash covering building projects – into a pot that already holds £4.5m for the scheme.

The road scheme is key to getting development on the Northern Quarter site. A scheme along the lines of the one in 2008, with over 100,000sqm of retail space, won’t happen now because of the changed environment.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, deputy Tory council leader

The full amount – £12.5m – would then be taken to the government in the hope it will award another £24m needed to revamp the city centre road network.

It would see roundabouts south of the M275 taken out and a smoother one-way system around Market Way, unlocking land split up by the network for development, which could involve a revised version of the collapsed Northern Quarter plan.

Deputy Tory council leader Councillor Luke Stubbs said there was an ‘80 per cent chance’ the council would commit to stashing £8m away.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘The road scheme is key to getting development on the Northern Quarter site.

‘A scheme along the lines of the one in 2008, with over 100,000sqm of retail space, won’t happen now because of the changed environment.

‘Some development attracting a substantial amount of retail is possible. But nothing will happen unless the road is sorted out first.

‘Because at the moment, the sites are fragmented and the roads wouldn’t be able to cope with development, and the urban environment wouldn’t be very nice.’

Tory council boss Cllr Donna Jones said the council wasn’t hopeful a £24m bid to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership would be successful, the reason why it would need to dip into its own resources before launching a bigger bid to the government.

But she hopes extra cash should also become available once the Solent combined authority comes to fruition.

Cllr Jones said: ‘Throughout 2015, the administration gave consideration over what would be the best way forward for the Northern Quarter site.

‘Now a new opportunity has arisen, as the council is currently to update the Portsmouth local plan, which has to be signed off and approved by the planning inspector by 2018.

‘This gives us the opportunity to look at re-configuring the motorway through the city and speeding up traffic getting in and out.’

The original £500m Northern Quarter retail project, first mooted in the late 1990s, collapsed in 2014 as it was deemed too much of a financial risk.