It’s time that Commercial Road had a facelift

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It’s hard to argue against the fact that the Commercial Road precinct in Portsmouth is badly in need of attention to make it more attractive to shoppers.

One only has to take a trip to Gunwharf Quays, or along the M27 to Westquay, to see how modern complexes have led to people expecting a lot more when they go shopping.

Our city centre retail offering has simply not kept pace with changing times and is now paying the price.

Of course, it has been a victim of the collapse of the £500m Northern Quarter shopping vision, which first materialised in the late 1990s but was eventually dropped in 2014 because of the huge financial risks involved.

And until such time as a modern transport network is created around the city centre, any future leisure and housing development in the heart of the city remains a pipedream.

But that said, there are still ways to smarten up Commercial Road as a retail centre.

So we are pleased to report today that city leaders insist plans to revamp the area remain very much on track.

There has been criticism that the project has taken too long and both shoppers and traders are losing out in the meantime.

But deputy Tory council leader Councillor Luke Stubbs says work will begin in the next two months on a £300,000 project to breathe new life into the shopping precinct.

It will involve sandblasting benches, planting new trees and replacing worn paving slabs at the southern end.

That should certainly make the area look more attractive, which is critical if footfall is to be increased.

It’s not wholesale redesign, but that is just not an option when the money isn’t available to make big changes.

As Cllr Stubbs says: ‘In the short term, it’s about making the most of what we have got.’

We look forward to seeing the results of the makeover and people being attracted back to Commercial Road to do their shopping.