Fresh cash boost for Gosport waterfront in new consultation

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

Hundreds turn out for Scrap The Cap rally

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NEW cash has been set aside to help regenerate Gosport’s waterfront.

And now councillors want the public to say how it should take shape.

It comes after major plans to rejuvenate the area were shelved due to the recession.

Now Cllr Mark Hook has allocated £150,000 of the council’s 2015/16 budget for projects including the one at the South Street bus station.

He said: ‘It is important that we do more public consultations and use the findings to move the project forward.

‘There is a lot to the development before you even draw up the plans that need looking into.’

A previous option included knocking down the bus station. It was heavily criticised when first floated.

No firm plans have been made for the bus station yet and Cllr Hook said anything can happen to the waterfront.

He said: ‘We asked members of the public about the waterfront and they agreed money should be spent there.

‘But before we can make any final plans, we need to make sure we have the money to do the different surveys and consultations and get the views of experts for the site.’

Since the waterfront plan was shelved amid the economic downturn, other parts of the waterfront have opened up to development.

That includes knocking down the Mayfield Buildings and building an Aldi supermarket and homes.

In November last year the Defence Infrastructure Organisation agreed to sell a retained area at Royal Clarence Yard to Gosport Borough Council.

That meant another piece of the waterfront was freed for development.

Cllr Hook said there are many options for the waterfront area and bus station.

He added: ‘We need to make sure that we have the facilities on the waterfront that members of public want.

‘That includes areas for taxis, places for cyclists and lay-by for the buses.

‘There could also be restaurants and places for people to meet with the harbour in view.

‘We could have a range of buildings or just one building depending on the site and what else is there.’

Back in 2011 a £20,000 grant from Hampshire County Council funded a major public consultation.

The plans were then going to cost the council £100m and Cllr Hook said he wanted a design to complement Gunwharf Quays over the harbour in Portsmouth.

Part of the plan to knock down the bus station was hailed as ‘bonkers’ by Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Peter Chegwyn.

He blasted Cllr Hook’s assertion the town did not need a bus station.

The original waterfront plan would have cost £500m and made 3,000 jobs.