£1.75m grant means Hot Walls transformation in Portsmouth will go ahead

PLANS How the Artches project could look
PLANS How the Artches project could look
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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A NEW creative quarter by the sea will go ahead after winning government money.

The proposal for artist studios, a brasserie and a kiosk at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth will go ahead thanks to a grant of £1.75m from the Coastal Communities Fund.

It was announced by Portsmouth North MP, and newly-appointed coastal communities minister, Penny Mordaunt.

Ms Mordaunt told The News: ‘I am so delighted to announce funding from the fund and particularly to announce it for Portsmouth.

‘The project has come from the local community.

‘In Portsmouth, there has been a little bit of controversy about the plans, but this is the best way to use the money and improve the quality of life and stimulate the local economy and creative industry.

‘It is not just protecting the Hot Walls between the Square and Round towers but it is getting behind and supporting artists in the area.’

Portsmouth City Council submitted a proposal for 13 artist studios and granted it planning permission at the end of last year. Work is expected to begin in the next six months.

More than 20 jobs will be created as a result of the funding and 82 positions indirectly.

Along with the government grant, the council has put forward £100,000 and the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) contributed £40,000.

Cllr Linda Symes, the city council’s cabinet member for culture, said: ‘It is incredible news for the city that we can make a cultural hub in Old Portsmouth a reality.

‘The funding is not only boost for our creative industries, but secures the future for the local historic monuments which will be converted. They are vulnerable to damage and need ongoing investment.

‘Offering reduced rent for artists means keeping talented people in the city and helps support our creative industries.

‘Consultation has shown there is a need for artists’ spaces and means we can provide for those in the early stages of their career.

‘We are delighted this project has had so much support from residents, creative organisations and English Heritage.’

Neighbours were at loggerheads over proposals

THE plans to convert Old Portsmouth’s historic arches into art studios sparked two rival petitions.

While many people are in favour of the proposals for artist studios, a brasserie and kiosk at the Hot Walls there are some quarters where it was unwelcome.

More than 1,600 residents signed an online petition in opposition to the scheme, but one set up in favour attracted just as many.

One resident blasted the scheme as being harmful to local businesses and feared it would damage the area’s character. They claimed the project would be the cheap commercialisation of a historic monument and claimed the council was viewing it a tourist attraction rather than just being for local people.

But the council say the investment will help fund the fortifications’ preservation.