BUSINESS owners in Southsea’s Palmerston Road are calling for the street’s south end to be shut to all traffic.
Portsmouth City Council plans to spend £470,000 on improvements to the road, in a bid to promote a European cafe culture and encourage more people to visit.
It hopes its measures, which include pavement build-outs, road resurfacing and banning all vehicles except buses, taxis and bikes, will encourage people to eat and drink at tables outside the road’s cafes and bars.
But Southsea Village, a group of business owners representing Palmerston Road and Osborne Road, warns the proposals will fall short of the council’s hopes.
Steve Hudson, owner of Drift Bar in Palmerston Road, and Southsea Village member, said: ‘We’re very glad this money is to be spent. We aren’t being negative. Business has decreased since Gunwharf Quays opened, and it’s great the council plans to improve things for business owners and visitors. But we’re afraid what they’re suggesting isn’t going to do enough. We want them to do more.’
The group believes the road’s south end, between Villiers Road and Clarendon Road, should be completely shut to all vehicles, enabling bar and cafe owners to set up tables along a central strip.
Mr Hudson said: ‘This is how things are done in continental Europe. The original plans, drawn up a few years ago, envisaged a full stretch from the seafront to Palmerston Road as fully pedestrianised, with tables for bars and restaurants. We know there’s a recession, so things have to be cut back but this could be the first stage, with the others to follow when things continue. We’re just afraid people won’t want to sit outside while buses rumble past.’
Councillor Mike Hancock, the council’s leader for economic regeneration, said: ‘We welcome all input from anyone with ideas. But the reason we can’t just shut off the road is that people do live there.
‘They want to use buses and taxis, and this is a route they take. It would be very difficult to move the taxi rank on Palmerston Road anywhere nearby, for example. But I hope if people have suggestions, they will bring them to us.’
The council hopes work on the improvements will start by February and will be finished in May next year.