Clarence Pier holds a special place in the hearts of many people in Portsmouth, and to be honest it’s easy to see why.
A fairly easy walk from the city centre, as soon as you get to the area you feel like you’re on holiday – it’s a combination of the smell of donuts, the sound of fairground rides and the rattle of coins in the penny machines in the arcades. It’s familiar and in a strange way comforting.
But even its most die-hard fan must admit that the stretch of seafront between the hovercraft offices and the Spur Redoubt needs updating, which is why it was good news that one point of focus in the city council’s seafront masterplan that was revealed last summer was to look at Clarence Pier, and to try to impose an over-arching plan for its future.
This is not to imply any criticism of businesses in the area for dereliction of duty – it’s clear that many are doing what they can to keep the area going by opening new attractions – but the reason it was welcome is that to truly effect a lasting change there needs to be a strong partnership between the private and the public – in this case between businesses in the area and the council.
And there is also another stakeholder – to use a word much loved of planners – in this, and that is all of us. While the truism about not pleasing all of the people all of the time was never more true than in local politics, it’s imperative that as many people as possible let the planners know what they think of ideas for the area.
We’re also heartened by the fact that the plan to move the bandstand to the Rose Garden has been scrapped. Not that it was a bad idea per se, but the fact that the public outcry, seen forcibly on our letters page last summer, has been taken into account by those putting the masterplan together. It’s not a U-turn when a proposal is scrapped like this – it’s how life should work.
So, like the cyclist who is quoted in today’s story, everyone with an interest in the seafront should get in touch to have their say on the masterplan as it progresses. We naturally have a seafront to be proud of – now let’s see us make better use of it.