Palmerston Road key to Portsmouth city centre success says Cascades boss

Commercial Road precinct                   Picture: C�sar Moreno Huerta
Commercial Road precinct Picture: C�sar Moreno Huerta

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THE boss of Portsmouth’s Cascades Shopping Centre hopes improvements set to be made to the city centre in a boost to pull in more shoppers will kick-start a bigger regeneration drive.

Cascades centre manager Rhoda Joseph believes Commercial Road needs to aspire to become as vibrant as Southsea precinct Palmerston Road.

There is an aspiration that we would like the city centre pedestrian precinct of Commercial Road to have the same feel as the pedestrian precinct in Palmerston Road.

Cascades centre manager Rhoda Joseph

And she’s urging city council planners to get behind the vision – so the economy can grow and the central shopping hub can finally reach its full potential.

It comes after Tory deputy council leader Councillor Luke Stubbs insisted plans were pushing ahead to spend the bulk of a £300,000 fund in the coming months on changes to the layout of the street.

Speaking to The News, Mrs Joseph said: ‘We are hoping this will be the first stage in further improvements.

‘There is an aspiration that we would like the city centre pedestrian precinct of Commercial Road to have the same feel as the pedestrian precinct in Palmerston Road.

‘Because that’s open, not cluttered and has a very comfortable feel about it which attracts people to come shopping and stay longer.

‘So we are hoping these works are the beginning of the main scheme. But it’s all very early days.’

As reported, contractors are set to get to work sandblasting benches, planting new trees and replacing paving slabs at the southern end.

Some work was done before Christmas, removing a sculpture display outside Cascades.

Mrs Joseph added: ‘It’s about ensuring retail leaders in the city can offer their customers the nicest possible environment to come visit.

‘At the moment, we are selling ourselves a bit short.’

The News has also launched an online poll asking readers what improvements they would like to see most in Commercial Road.

Participants have a choice between; more big name stores, more special interest stores, better parking, better public transport links, a roof over the main precinct or a daily market.

While others have suggested alternatives – including spending the cash helping the homeless.

Writing on The News’ Facebook page, Paul Jeram said: ‘I have the utmost compassion for the homeless.

‘But it has become a 24-hour high-profile part of Commercial Road.

‘Bottom line: sodden duvets in shop doorways do not bring the pleasure shoppers back.

‘Spend this £300,000 on getting these people more help and relocating those who don’t, and get some regular stalls/entertainment down the middle bit outside Smith’s.’

Kerry Little NeeWilliams said: ‘West Quay and Gunwharf work because of the high-end feel to the places and the type of shops that are there.

‘There are also amazing restaurants/dining venues.

‘It’s not about putting a bit of paving down and planting a few trees. You need to get the “big boy name” shops in to attract the shoppers ie: A&F, Superdry etc.’

Gill Christie said: ‘Haven’t shopped there for more than five years – expensive parking, nowhere to eat, no decent shops and for someone like me with arthritis it’s too spread out.

‘Much easier and much less hassle to shop online and delivery costs less than the parking!’

Kelly Punter said: ‘Cleaning benches is not going to bring people to Commercial Road to shop.

‘Maybe less phone shops, pound shops and bric-a-brac shops would be a way to go.’

Lynda Payne said: ‘No amount of cosmetic cover-ups will improve Commercial Road.’