AGREEMENTS are to be signed which will see Portsmouth’s Millennium Walkway finished, more than 10 years after plans were first drawn up.
The path, which links Old Portsmouth’s Round Tower to the historic dockyard, was planned in the 1990s as a millennium project for the city. But despite more than a decade of negotiations, one section, between Gunwharf Quays and the Hard, is still unfinished.
Portsmouth City Council’s strategic director Roger Ching said: ‘There’ve been sticking points, and they’ve been difficult to negotiate. But we’re hopeful the final agreements can soon be signed, which will allow us to finish the scheme.’
Mr Ching retires at the end of this month.
In June, he told The News he hoped to have deeds of easement with four companies – Network Rail, Wightlink Ferries, Land Securities and Continuum, which own Portsmouth Harbour railway station, the Isle of Wight ferry departure point, Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower – ready to sign before he left.
He said: ‘They are there and we don’t expect any further delays. We hope the agreements will be signed by September.’
Following the agreements, companies will be invited to tender for the work, which could take up to five months.
The council then estimates the walkway will take seven months to complete.
The scheme has seen the council tie up hundreds of thousands of pounds, while it has attempted to agree the link can run under a covering through Portsmouth Harbour station.
In an internal report in November 2008, the council estimated it would cost £895,000 to complete the walkway.
But seven months later, it had to hand back £250,000 to Gunwharf developer, Berkeley Homes, whose set deadline for the walkway’s completion had passed. The council has to finish the walkway or pay up to £3m to the Millennium Commission, which part-funded the project.
The council’s leader for leisure, Councillor Lee Hunt, said: ‘It’s very important to connect all Portsmouth’s seafront attractions. We’re a waterfront city, so I hope we can start the last stage soon.’