Fresh hope that Northern Quarter will become reality

FUTURISTIC A computer-generated image of Marketway looking east
FUTURISTIC A computer-generated image of Marketway looking east
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes with members of Solent Waspi at her Senior Citizens Fair, in Fareham.

Solent Waspi campaigners attend Fareham fair

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THE developer behind a shelved multimillion pound shops and homes scheme in Portsmouth’s Northern Quarter has said there is now enough demand for the project to go ahead.

Pictures of what the redevelopment of the former Tricorn Centre area could look like by the end of 2018 have been released today.

PLAZA How the main shopping street could look

PLAZA How the main shopping street could look

The project, which will be worth between £275m and £300m if it goes ahead, could introduce around 1,000 retail jobs to the city, as well as another 1,000 short-term construction jobs.

An outline planning application detailing developer Centros’s plans will be sent to Portsmouth City Council’s planning department within the first four months of 2014.

John Marsh, the director of Centros, told The News the company’s proposals had been delayed by the economic downturn in 2008 but that there is now enough demand for the project to begin.

‘There has been very little town and city development over the last few years because of the economy,’ he said.

‘Portsmouth is a strong city and places like Portsmouth are demanding high-quality developments, so that gives us the confidence to go ahead with this. We believe there is the demand for the scheme.

‘Our investment in the regeneration of the Northern Quarter will bring huge benefits. Not only will it help to present Portsmouth as a dynamic, successful city embracing the future, it will generate a significant economic boost through the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs and the retention of trade in Portsmouth, which would otherwise go elsewhere.’

Among the proposals for the retail and leisure complex are between 50 and 60 shops, including a department store, cafes and restaurants, a cinema, and potentially a hotel.

Two areas containing residential housing are also proposed, with the expected number of properties and affordable housing not yet decided.

The Northern Quarter has had a checkered past, as work was due to start in 2009. But this was scaled back, and the most recent version of the plans before today were priced at £500m and would have included 47 shops, including one huge anchor store and more than 1,000 homes.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said he believes the development will now go ahead.

‘I think it will because the developer would not put forward a scheme unless it had the money to build it and it was going to make a profit,’ he said.

‘We need really high quality shops. In the last scheme John Lewis said it would be the anchor store. I really want them to be there.’

Construction could start in 2017, with the scheme complete by the end of 2018.

Kathy Wadsworth, the council’s strategic director for regeneration, said: ‘It is great news Centros is making progress with the Northern Quarter development which will provide a fantastic facility for visitors and residents.’

A three-day public consultation will take place next week where more information will be available.

THREE-DAY CONSULTATION STARTS NEXT THURSDAY

THREE days of public consultation on Centros’s plans for the Northern Quarter will take place next week.

The consultation will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week in a temporary building in the Marketway car park close to the road crossing to Sainsbury’s.

Representatives of Portsmouth City Council will be there to explain how the proposed development would be integrated into the city centre’s road network.

It will be open to the public on Thursday from 9am to 8pm; Friday 9am to 4pm; and Saturday 9am to 4pm.

John Marsh, director of Centros, said: ‘We are delighted to present our vision for the Northern Quarter to the people of Portsmouth and will be pleased to discuss it with them at our public exhibition next week.’

Residents can submit their views about the proposals either at the exhibition, through the website’s online feedback form at northernquarter.info and, via email to feedback@northernquarter.info or by post to ‘Freepost Centros’.

CONSULTANTS’ CONTRACTS ARE FINALLY BROUGHT INTO LINE

CONSULTANTS hired by the council for the Northern Quarter development are now being given proper contracts.

It comes after a report by the Portsmouth City Council’s chief internal auditor showed property consultants DTZ and legal advisers Nabarro were working as freelancers and hadn’t been hired according to procurement rules. The authority says this was because both were brought in on what was anticipated to be a short-term basis which didn’t require a procurement process.

The only details found were the consultants’ own terms and conditions. The problem has now been rectified.