Investment in traditional port should be welcomed

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Anyone who has attempted to park in Gunwharf Road car park during the height of the holiday season will know how difficult it is.

It is opposite the entrance to Wightlink’s ferry terminal in Portsmouth.

By the company’s own admission, there are at least 20 occasions a year when so many vehicles are queueing to catch a ferry that they spill over into that car park across the road forcing its closure.

It drives motorists and residents nuts. The knock-on effect can stretch back to roads in the city centre.

So Wightlink came up with a £45m scheme to install a new super ferry on the Gunwharf-Fishbourne crossing – one which will allow vehicles to board from the ground and a new first-floor level, simultaneously.

Makes perfect sense you might think. The extra car park deck will be able to take all those vehicles off neighbouring streets and carry them more quickly across the Solent. Portsmouth planners agreed with the company yesterday and approved the project.

But some residents of Old Portsmouth disagree.

They believe the new terminal will obscure their views, allow drivers waiting on that upper deck to peek into their homes, and that, along with the Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters, there has been too much large-scale development on their doorstep.

Yes, Old Portsmouth is quaint, an attractive place to live and a wonderful draw for visitors, but it cannot be preserved in aspic.

Let’s not forget, it was only four decades ago that a giant power station existed in Gunwharf Road. For centuries the adjacent Camber was a flourishing port with all the associated noise and dirt that went with it.

Wightlink is prepared to invest in Portsmouth, invest in an area which traditionally has been a port. We wish its plans well.

We just hope its new terminal is big enough to take all those extra vehicles when events such as the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival and Cowes Week roll around each year and queues stretching back out into Gunwharf Road and beyond will be consigned to history.