New coffee bar gets permission to open in Portsmouth

The old Aerial Business Communications building
The old Aerial Business Communications building

A NEW coffee bar will open on a busy Portsmouth junction despite councillors' fears about traffic safety.

At a planning committee meeting today they approved an application for a cafe on half the site of the former Aerial Business Communications on the corner of Rodney Road in Fratton.

Prior to the meeting the proposals had garnered 258 objections from residents, although these were mainly concerned about a separate application for a pizza takeaway, which has since been withdrawn, on the same site.

Some of these came from residents of nearby Summerson Lodge, including Terrence Leroy who attended the meeting as a deputee. Speaking to the committee he said: 'The general increase in traffic will bring about more noise such as the opening and closing of doors and running engines.

'The entrance to this venue is on Alverstone Road and the exit is onto Rodney Road. If cars want to travel north from there they will have to cross two 30mph lanes. The junction is known as the worst traffic junction out of any in the city.'

Some of his fears were met by traffic boss Cllr Lynne Stagg. 'What concerns me is if we are going to have people sat outside at a junction which is excruciatingly polluted,' she said.

'There should be a health warning for people if they are sitting outside.'

But it was agreed that traffic and pollution were not grounds to refuse the application.

Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs said: 'I do understand the residents' concerns. But there is nothing to stop this site becoming something like a convenience store. Would this coffee shop have as great an impact on the area as that would? I don't believe it would.'

The coffee shop will seat customers both inside and out on a terrace and serving food and drink.

Speaking outside of the meeting one of the shop’s owners, Akhtar Siddiqui, said: 'We're really happy our plans have been approved and we're excited to get work started straight away. The coffee shop will benefit all types of residents.'

Six councillors voted in favour of the venue and three against.

No plans have yet been submitted for the other half of the site.