According to Portsmouth City Council, 70 per cent of visitors spend time on the seafront. It’s a figure that comes as little surprise.
For after the obvious draw of our historic ships, the stretch from Old Portsmouth to Eastney is the second jewel in the city’s crown.
With the rarity of the green lung which is Southsea Common on one side, to the ever-changing maritime vista on the other, and with the Isle of Wight as a backdrop, the resort (if we can still call it such) is unique in Britain.
The council has adopted a masterplan to breath new life into it, a broad strategy which is supported by The News.
However, there is a danger that whatever decisions are taken to refresh the seafront, the eastern end might be overlooked.
It would be easy to look at the segment between the two piers as the one needing most in terms of an overhaul.
But the portion from South Parade Pier to Eastney is, for many, currently the most lacking in facilities.
Doubtless, there are those who would preserve it in aspic: those who enjoy the wilder, less-commercialised beaches and the quieter areas of the promenade as it peters out towards Eastney.
So, we welcome the authority’s decision to ask businesses to come up with ideas for catering outlets on five areas close to Canoe Lake and Lumps Fort.
There is nothing to say that a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants to suit all pockets would not be a considerable draw to this part of the eastern end of the seafront.
Councillor Lee Hunt, the cabinet member for culture and leisure, wants to test the water after a catering specialist reckoned there were not enough places in the area to eat and drink.
‘Independent businesses are thriving along Portsmouth’s seafront and there is an appetite for more,’ he says.’
We agree; there is a need in this area. However, the council must ensure any resulting outlets are of a quality which matches this quieter end of the prom which has so much to offer visitors and, just as importantly, the people who live here.