Intrigued '“ but we're also a touch sceptical

Excitement and curiosity tempered with a healthy dose of cynicism of ever seeing real progress.

That’s what experience has taught us how we should react to the latest incarnation of plans for the Northern Quarter in Portsmouth.

From being promised in 2005 an all-new shopping centre, with not just one but two ‘anchor’ – as in big-name – stores, we have seen the regeneration dream slowly dwindle to a smaller version, outlined in 2013, and now a different, again scaled-back iteration with a new name: City Centre North.

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It’s not the most dynamic of names – although it cannot be denied that it’s accurate. And again it leads us to wonder; what should our hopes and expectations be?

Firstly, it is difficult what to make of the computer-generated image released today. It is certainly a step up from what’s currently on the ABC roundabout but, at such an early stage, it is of course impossible to say with confidence that today’s graphic is how the finished scheme will look. The road on the picture is clearly for illustrative purposes only – it’s hard to believe any main road in Portsmouth has been that quiet since the mid-1950s.

But to pick holes in this is to miss the point just as much as to believe that this design will appear in Portsmouth in the next five years. The wider message to take is that wheels are turning, applications are being drawn up and possibilities are being looked at.

It’s better to have a go than condemn the former Tricorn site to further years of neglect and inactivity, and goodness knows we need the gateway to Portsmouth to look better than it currently does.

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So we’re intrigued and encouraged by this plan, for sure. But we, and many readers, will be saying to themselves we’ve heard this one before’ and will be looking through the ideas with a sceptical eye. After the inglorious history of the last 15 years, that’s to be expected.

But hope springs eternal – let’s give it a chance while eager for more concrete details to emerge along the way.

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