COMMENT: Project is just what we need to bring city centre to life

It’s been painfully obvious for some time that the city centre is in need of regeneration.

While modern shopping and leisure destinations such as near neighbour Gunwharf Quays and West Quay along the M27 pull in the crowds, Commercial Road suffers by comparison.

Ever since the £500m Northern Quarter project foundered, the city’s heart has badly needed surgery.

So it’s exciting to reveal today how ambitious new multi-million-pound plans could boost traffic flow and breathe life back into Commercial Road.

Council leader Donna Jones calls it ‘one of the biggest projects Portsmouth has ever seen’ and that is no hyperbole.

A project that could cost up to £60m would see Hope Street and Flathouse Road turned into a dual carriageway to get traffic moving quicker through the city.

Market Way and Church Street roundabouts would be replaced by traffic signal junctions, with a new public square or marketplace developed at the top of Commercial Road.

The rest of the City Centre North development would see 2,600 homes built around the former Tricorn Centre site between Princess Royal Road and the Cascades Shopping Centre.

High-rise towers would include apartments and business space, with the aim of bringing in shops, restaurants and bars – and the jobs that would come with them.

Right now, all that exists are a collection of artists’ impressions.

The challenge for the council is to get them off the drawing board and make them a bricks and mortar reality.

There have been too many false dawns where the city centre is concerned.

This time, we must not let the opportunity slip away.

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