Fresh uncertainty over future of Portsmouth pub as flats bid comes forward

Councillor Dave Ashmore delivering objection letters about the Connaught Arms to the city council, after the first plan was revealed to turn it into a shop
Councillor Dave Ashmore delivering objection letters about the Connaught Arms to the city council, after the first plan was revealed to turn it into a shop
The Tangmere roundabout. Picture: Kate Shemilt

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Fresh uncertainty surrounds the future of a former Portsmouth pub.

Campaigners thought they had scored a victory last month after plans to redevelop The Connaught Arms were thrown out.

The Fratton community rallied after applicant Portland House Ltd put forward a proposal to turn the former local in Guildford Road into a shop.

An extension and roller shutters would have been put in.

But now the community has been riled again as revised plans have come forward to redevelop the building.

The applicant has applied to the city council to convert the first floor into two one-bed flats with access from the ground floor. It’s also seeking for space to put in a cycle and refuse store.

Fratton Lib Dem councillor Dave Ashmore led a campaign against the original proposals, which a planning officer ruled would have had a ‘detrimental impact’ on the appearance of the area.

Cllr Ashmore held public meetings and gathered petitions against the prospect of a shop being built. And he’s also concerned about the prospect of flats being crammed in – and sees some merit in the site being used as a pub once again.

Cllr Ashmore said: ‘The views are pretty split on this.

‘Unfortunately the reputation of it went down, and a lot of it were fed up with it because of the noise and aggravation being caused. But some people miss the local banter that the pub had, and it had some community spirit.’

Cllr Ashmore said he remembers The Magpie, on Fratton Road, and how that was converted into flats.

It was built in 1894 and closed in 2007 before being redeveloped.

He said the key to local pubs surviving now was offering something different and not choosing to simply open the doors and wait for customers to arrive.

Cllr Ashmore said: ‘You need to do things like themed nights, and offer entertainment which a lot of pubs are now doing to draw people in.’

But he believes the biggest threats to community locals are big chainss like Wetherspoon – and supermarkets offering cheap deals.

Cllr Ashmore said: ‘Some people now are just loading up and settling in for the evening, or just having small gatherings, which doesn’t help. Those are the reasons unfortunately that a lot of the smaller pubs have gone downhill.’

A decision has yet to be taken over the new proposals for the Connaught.

A Portland House spokesperson was last night unreachable for comment.