The Northern Quarter plan is vital to city regeneration

(Middle) Kaz Miah, owner and head chef, with his team (l-r) Steph Thomas, Rujal Miah, George Purnell and Kieran Crawford.   Picture: Sarah Standing (170506-129)

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Talk of a multi-million pound shopping complex being created as part of Portsmouth city centre’s Northern Quarter redevelopment has been going on for years.

The very mention of the project – first talked about in the early 2000s – stirs up a lot of frustration and there will be a lot of people who believe it’ll never happen.

The recession, legal wrangles over ownership of land and spiralling estimated costs – which at one point reached £500m – are all reasons why the plans have never come to fruition.

Politicians have blamed each other over why it’s never happened.

It’s the public and the region’s economy that miss out, as the scheme is seen as key to kickstarting the regeneration of Portsmouth’s shopping experience.

It would also finally see the city take on other nearby major shopping hubs which are pulling in big visitor numbers; WestQuay in Southampton, Chichester and Winchester.

That’s why we wholeheartedly welcome the news today that Portsmouth City Council has kickstarted fresh talks with developer Centros to finally bring the plans back to life and reinvigorate interest in the vision.

The council has taken a fresh approach and realised that getting a new road system in place to improve traffic flow into the heart of the city and entice developers is the way to make things happen. It’s a good move.

Let’s hope the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership – the body which has received the council’s bid for £30m to revamp the road network south of the M275 – takes it seriously and makes the scheme a priority.

It’s not just Portsmouth that would benefit; the wider region wants to see traffic congestion in and around the city being eased and development getting off the ground. Hopefully, assurances from both Centros and the council that they’re actively seeking a solution are not yet more rhetoric.

We’ll be watching whether leaders back up their talk with serious action and make the Northern Quarter dream a reality.

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