New cafe to open at historic arches despite objections

Artists impression of the new kiosk that will be placed in the arches near the Hot Walls.
Artists impression of the new kiosk that will be placed in the arches near the Hot Walls.
Teacher Catherine Smith, headteacher Polly Honeychurch and police and crime commissioner Michael Lane with Year 10 pupils and the Heartstone Odyssey book at Cottage Grove Primary School, Portsmouth     Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A NEW cafe is to open at Old Portsmouth’s historic arches – despite opposition from local residents.

Battery Point is a disused building in the seafront fortifications near the Round Tower, which is currently used for storage.

It is now set to be transformed into The Hotwalls cafe, providing drinks, sandwiches and ice creams to seafront visitors and residents.

But neighbours have complained there is no need for another food outlet in the area and worry it will create problems with parking, litter and noise.

They also say it will affect the historic character of Old Portsmouth.

But these objections were not seen as enough for Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee to turn down the scheme.

Paul Goldman, from Old Portsmouth, joined another resident in speaking at the meeting on behalf of 20 local people who were against the plans.

He said: ‘This cafe would spoil the character and unique charm of this area.

‘And we do not see the need for it.

‘There are 10 public houses in this area and three cafes. There is even another new cafe opening this week.

‘The council needs to show that there are not better sites available for this cafe.’

Ray Wheeler, of Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, added: ‘This couldn’t get closer to the local residents.

‘They are directly opposite – it is like someone setting up a commercial operation right in front of your house.’

He went on: ‘The only justification for giving this approval is to raise revenue and I’m not satisfied this is a good enough reason for damaging the area.’

But the cafe – which will be run by Portsmouth City Council and paid for with money from central government – was supported by English Heritage.

And the vice-chairman of the Portsmouth Society, David Baynes, said it would help stop the area from becoming a ‘residential backwater’.

The application received unanimous approval from the planning committee and Lib Dem councillor David Fuller, who said: ‘When I was young it was always very vibrant down near the arches and it doesn’t feel like that now.

‘This would help deal with that and should be enjoyed by everybody.

‘We should encourage more things around there.’

The cafe is the first step in a project to revamp the area around the Round Tower and turn it into an arts district.