COMMENT: Hoses can’t wash away all our woes, but it’s a start

It’s not a controversial statement to say that Portsmouth city centre has seen better days.

And we wouldn’t be so crass as to suggest that giving it a bit of a hose-down, no matter how high-powered, will magically provide the answer to all of the area’s woes.

However, restoring some pride in our city centre has to start somewhere.

Years of encrusted grime hardly speak of streets that have been well-tended. But Portsmouth City Council is pledging to change that as it plans to improve and then maintain the pedestrian precinct in Commercial Road.

And from there it is hoped cleaner streets will help to reinvigorate the area. If it looks more attractive, so the thinking goes, then businesses could look more favourably at moving back into the city centre, and even make shoppers happier to spend time there.

With long-stalled plans for the Northern Quarter finally scrapped and replaced earlier this year by the so-called City Centre North project, there is a very real need to make the beleaguered area as inviting as possible. Prospective investors coming to visit Portsmouth will not want to be faced by a down-at-heel, tired-looking city centre.

Commercial Road should be a jewel in the crown – it is our main shopping centre after all – but at present it would still be a stretch to describe it even as a diamond in the rough.

So while hosing down Commercial Road is far from the be all and end all, it could be a crucial first step – the first piece of a much larger jigsaw that could ultimately see major investment in the city centre to the tune of tens of millions and the creation of thousands of jobs.

We want to be optimistic about the future of our city centre. Who knows, from small acorns...

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