A bold vision of the future is just what we need

COMMENT: Let’s hope Hawk’s wings are not clipped before it flies

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At a difficult time for the economy, what a pleasure to be able to get away from the doom and gloom and look ahead to a bright and exciting future.

Portsmouth City Council planners have been busy coming up with a blueprint for how the city could look in years to come – and today we reveal their plans.

There is no question that the envisaged transformation of the city centre and seafront is hugely ambitious. But we see nothing wrong in that.

Depending on how much investment can be attracted, the wishlist may end up watered down before any of it becomes reality.

At the end of the day, somebody has to pay for the bold vision. But why not start off by aiming high?

Rejuvenation of the Northern Quarter is long overdue and, although we have Gunwharf, Portsmouth’s central retail offering has to be upgraded if we are to compete with the likes of Southampton’s WestQuay.

It’s also good to see plans for an overhaul of the city centre’s traffic system to improve access. Because if people can’t get somewhere easily, then they will be put off from returning – and the money they spend will be lost.

We also like the idea of transforming Clarence Pier by building a hotel and enlarged hover pad, plus improving the whole seafront offering by introducing an outdoor music area near Southsea Castle, a sports facility near Avenue de Caen and more public artwork.

This isn’t just about facilities, physical structures, though. It is about creating a sense of vibrancy, a perception that Portsmouth is a go-ahead place.

We’ve already got so much to shout about, but planners have correctly identified that the city has to keep moving forward or it risks getting left behind.

John Slater, the council’s head of planning, is dead right when he says: ‘We are in difficult times, but that’s not a reason to stop planning. It’s the best time to be able to plan the foundations of the future by investing in the city.’

Do you agree with what is proposed? We want you to be part of the debate, so let us know what you think (details of how to get in touch are on page 5).

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