OPINION: Time to think bigger and aim higher for the future

Rick Jackson has hit the gym in an effort to be healthy  (Shutterstock)

RICK JACKSON: Who’s the wise guy? Me!

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Professor Steffen Lehmann is absolutely correct when he says that revitalising the seafront is the key to Portsmouth’s future success.

Southsea’s long stretch of seafront, the common, and the historic dockyard, are the jewels in Portsmouth’s crown.

Residents treasure them, and they remain an attraction to visitors, but, there is a nagging feeling that their glory has faded slightly.

In the 21st century should we not be thinking bigger, planning for future generations, and, to coin a modern phrase, thinking outside the box?

Clarence Pier was highlighted as a key development site in the city council’s seafront masterplan five years ago.

A new hotel and conference centre were mooted, but nothing came of it, and no new proposals are imminent.

It’s not hard to see why. Any redevelopment of significant scale would need major investment, and we all know that times are hard.

A hotel and conference centre, while potentially a good economic prospect, would be a waste of an opportunity for such a fantastic site.

As Prof Lehman says: ‘It needs regeneration and an idea should be developed for the site in the right way.

‘It is one of the best pieces of land on the waterfront along the south coast.

‘You could have a world-class facility on there.’

Think of that. A world-class facility on our seafront. Think of the knock-on effects that would bring to our economy and livelihoods.

The success of Gunwharf Quays shows that private investment can open up new public spaces and bring financial rewards for investment.

A world-class facility on Southsea seafront may seem like pie-in-the sky right now, but Prof Lehmann is right to air the idea. Portsmouth needs to think bigger and aim higher.