Regeneration of Portsmouth arts and crafts quarter gets boost after trendy cafe gets licence

From left, Lucy Branson, Cllr Linda Symes, project manager Bev Lucas, and Bill Branson at the Hot Walls
From left, Lucy Branson, Cllr Linda Symes, project manager Bev Lucas, and Bill Branson at the Hot Walls

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THE regeneration of Old Portsmouth into an arts and crafts quarter has received a boost after a cafe in the heart of the development won a licence to trade.

The Canteen has been given the green light to welcome customers within the historic Hot Walls arches.

The arches are being transformed into 13 art studios for artists to showcase their work – a project known as the Hotwalls Studios.

Portsmouth City Council’s licensing committee was satisfied The Canteen’s desire to sell alcohol on the premises would not be detrimental.

The owners, Lucy and Bill Branson, said alcohol would only be served after 5pm and only to those eating, although Mr Branson said customers would be allowed to take home unfinished wine at the end of their meal.

It followed concerns from a number of Old Portsmouth residents about the potential for alcohol sales to cause problems. In a letter to the council, Old Portsmouth resident Anita Stepnitz said the inquest into the death of Marco Araujo had ‘influenced’ her view of alcohol licence applications for the area.

Mr Araujo was hailed a hero after dying while trying to save the lives of two girls who had been swept out to sea off the Hot Walls. It was revealed at the inquest that Mr Araujo had consumed three cans of Stella lager on the day of the tragedy.

Mr Branson said: ‘We recognise this area has a history of disorderly behaviour, but we would like to think the amount of investment being put in will transform the area.’

Assistant city solicitor, Peter Baulf, said the committee was satisfied with the cafe’s business model and there was ‘no direct evidence’ that granting a licence would breach licensing guidelines.

The Canteen will open 
from 8am to 5pm in the winter and in the summer it plans to stay open until 9pm, though it has a licence to close at 10pm so it can hold irregular private functions and art exhibitions.