Portsmouth secures almost £7 million for transforming high streets across the city

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HIGH streets across Portsmouth will enjoy a £6.9 million transformation thanks to two successful bids for funding from central government.

Commercial Road is set to receive £3.9m and Fratton Road will see £3.1m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The cash will go towards changing property use, improving public spaces, and making it easier for new businesses to open.

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Traders from each high street have been involved in developing proposals with ideas for Fratton Road including food markets, street festivals and music events.

Commercial Road in Portsmouth has secured more than £3.9m in funding from central government.Commercial Road in Portsmouth has secured more than £3.9m in funding from central government.
Commercial Road in Portsmouth has secured more than £3.9m in funding from central government.

In a letter to the city politicians, local government secretary Robert Jenrick said the proposals offered ‘overall good value for money’ and that he was delighted to extend an in-principle funding offer.

The council had made a combined bid worth £3.6m more than the offered amount, and the government is yet to confirm which aspects of the proposals will be funded, according to Portsmouth City Councillor Steve Pitt, executive member for economic development.

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He said: ‘It’s not everything we asked for, but it is extremely welcome.

‘It is a significant investment.

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‘Both projects have a number of different aspects to them, and we will have to have a conversation about what happens next.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson added: ‘I’m really, really pleased – £7m is really, really good.’

But Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said that the city was being ‘short-changed’ by the government.

The Labour politician said: ‘I have long argued that government needs to do better, the council do more, to bring our city’s high streets back from the brink which have been neglected for too long. That is why I have repeatedly lobbied government over the challenges our shopping areas face and backed a bid to ministers for much-needed funds.

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‘Covid has made the crisis on our city’s high streets even worse, with more store closures, further job losses and shopping areas looking unloved. Whilst this investment is welcome, and a step in the right direction, yet again Portsmouth’s communities are short-changed by this government.

‘If ministers are serious about turning around the misfortune of nation’s shopping areas, they need to commit to further investment in cities like our own.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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