A VISION to transform and revive an ‘ageing’ village precinct has been unveiled.
Fareham Borough Council has produced a masterplan for Portchester precinct –which in its current form has been described as ‘grim’ by the authority’s leader – after months of discussions and planning.
The ‘multi million-pound’ plans – which would see the local authority work with Hampshire County Council, which owns the pathway of the precinct, and several landlords – involve building housing, changing parking, providing ‘gateway entrances’ to the area and sprucing up its general appearance.
The plans recommend cutting the long-term parking spots in the village centre from 194 to 82 but boosting the number of short-stay spots from 51 to 189.
Dozens of flats could also be built behind the Co-op in West Street, in empty shops and via extensions to shops.
A gateway entrance is also recommended in addition to repaving the precinct surfaces, adding signs and improving the layout of pedestrian lighting.
We want to jazz up the precinct and get more people into Portchester.Councillor Geoff Fazackarley
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, said: ‘We want to inject some vitality into the precinct. To put it bluntly, it is grim at the moment and needs reviving.’
The council is hoping the precinct becomes ‘a coffee hot spot’ with the hope that it can bring in more cafes and restaurants.
Cllr Woodward added: ‘It’s a 50-year-old shopping precinct and more cafes and restaurants could maybe turn it into a coffee hot spot.
‘We want to create a buzz in Portchester.’
The council’s executive are set to decide in a meeting on Monday whether to approve the proposals for public consultation to get the people’s thoughts.
Councillor Geoff Fazackarley, who represents Portchester East, said: ‘We want to jazz up the precinct and get more people into Portchester.
‘It’s hard to put a figure on it as there are lots of parties involved, but it’s going to a multi million-pound project.’
Cllr Fazackarley emphasised that the proposals are not seeking large amounts of housing for the site.
He added: ‘When housing comes up, people think thousands of homes but it would not be right at all for the precinct so it will be in the dozens rather than the hundreds.’
Kevin Butcher, of the Portchester Traders’ Association, said: ‘Getting rid of long-term parking spaces will have an impact on the precinct as those using the spaces and getting the train will have to go and park elsewhere.’
He questioned the plans to build flats behind the Co-op, but said the precinct is in need of ‘a good clean.’
He said: ‘What the precinct needs is some TLC, but we also need some practical ideas in play, like glass canopies along either side to protect people from the rain.’
Shaun Cunningham, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Portchester, was ‘really pleased’ with the plans.
He added: ‘It’s a good place to start from, but now it’s up the residents to give their take on it. What they need to understand, though, is this is not going to happen in three years, we could be looking at 20 years and it will require a lot of investment to deliver this vision.’