TROUBLED shopping area North End is on the cusp of a revival, according to an MP.
The Portsmouth shopping centre was once a thriving retail destination.
It has fallen on hard times in recent years as shoppers have moved away from the high street, big companies have pulled out and parking spaces have been scrapped by the city council.
But yesterday saw the opening of refurbished travel agents Thomson, after hundreds of thousands of pounds was invested by the company – a move that was praised by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt.
She said: ‘We have worked very hard to bring a focus on to that part of the city.
‘For too long our secondary shopping centres have played second fiddle to bigger developments like Gunwharf Quays.
‘But centres like North End are a lifeline to the community.
‘North End is now starting to turn a corner, the council has changed parking (along London Road) and now people can stop there for short periods of time.
‘There’s now more to do, with more shops opening.
‘It has started to change for the better and the fact that companies like Thomson is investing is testament to that.’
An opening celebration was held at the travel agents with former Pompey player Vincent Péricard, who cut the ribbon.
He said: ‘The staff have worked hard and it is looking good. It’s a good start to getting back on track for North End.’
Branch manager Sheryl Wain said: ‘So many stores have closed in North End recently.
‘We wanted to try and help return the area to its former glory, while improving our services for customers.’
The store now has private booths, laptops showing the hotels and tours available, and an interactive map of the world to see holidays on offer.
This refurbishment follows a new Coral bookmakers opening at the former McDonald’s unit.
And housing developer Bernards has converted the former British Heart Foundation unit, on the corner of Stubbington Avenue, into 27 flats.