Plans for Old Portsmouth art studios given the green light

CHANGE An artist's impression of how the arches at Point Battery could look after the revamp
CHANGE An artist's impression of how the arches at Point Battery could look after the revamp

‘Don’t leave it too long to trim your hedges’

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AMBITIOUS plans to transform Old Portsmouth into a thriving arts and crafts quarter have been given the go-ahead.

Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee unanimously voted in favour of proposals to turn 13 of the arches at Point Battery into art studios.

Councillors agreed with planning officers that the development would not have a detrimental impact on the site’s historic features, and would help to protect what is there.

But it was met with a backlash from local residents, who warned the move could end up turning the place into a cheap retail space or an ‘industrial estate’.

Angus Ross, of St Thomas’s Street, said: ‘What we are looking at, are proposals for a row of studios with a cafe, and I can see this becoming a small shopping street or an industrial estate in what is clearly a residential area.’

Terry Halloran, of the Friends of Old Portsmouth Association, said that while he supported the application, he was concerned no extra parking spaces were going to be included. This will lead to extra travel right to the end of Portsmouth,’ he said.

‘I am sure there are not enough parking spaces in Portsmouth.

‘Why not develop a shuttle from the new park and ride service that could take people down there?

‘Without that, you won’t have the parking for this thing to succeed. It will be strangled at birth.’

Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, argued there would be only around 28 extra visitors a day, so there would not be an overwhelming demand.

Leader of the council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson said officers carried out a study in the summer which revealed there was about 77 parking spaces in the area not being used during the day, so these could be used by the extra visitors.

External funding is needed to make the project happen, and an application has been submitted.

The council hopes to find out by the end of January if its bid is successful.