WORK is continuing to transform Old Portsmouth into a thriving arts and crafts quarter.
The redevelopment of the Hot Walls arches into 13 art studios for artists to showcase their work is expected to be completed by the summer.
The city council has now appointed operators to run a deli-style cafe within the historic structures that will provide guests with seafront views.
Lucy and Bill Branson, who run The Tenth Hole Tearooms in Southsea, have been selected to take on the venue – to be called The Canteen.
They hope it will become a ‘focal point’ for the arts scene.
Speaking to The News at the site yesterday, Lucy said: ‘This end of the seafront has been in need of some tender, loving care and has been ripe for development for a long time. But what the council is doing to regenerate it is incredible.
This end of the seafront has been in need of some tender, loving care and has been ripe for development for a long time.Lucy Branson
‘When we came to look around the place, we fell in love with it.
‘We hope to be a focal point for the arts quarter and create a buzz around the area.’
The cafe will take on around 10 full-time staff and plans to hold champagne evenings in the summer and offer takeaway snack boxes to families going to the beach.
The Tenth Hole will remain unchanged and the couple will split their time between both businesses.
The work – known as the Artches project – has been paid for thanks to a £1.75m grant from the government’s coastal communities fund, as well as £40,000 from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire and £100,000 from the council.
Tory culture and leisure boss Linda Symes said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity. It’s a fabulous place and I cannot wait for it to open.’