Success for Gunwharf is good news for all of us

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STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

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Gunwharf Quays’ success in drawing shoppers into the city is well known. But news today that it has bucked the national trend and enjoyed a successful Christmas is good news, not just for its owners – or Gunwharf traders themselves – but for the Portsmouth area as a whole.

For thousands of jobs and companies rely on the success of Gunwharf during these hard economic times.

Even though it’s almost 11 years since it first opened its doors to the public, it is still seen as the jewel in Portsmouth’s crown.

In the past few years the likes of celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc have seen fit to open up their restaurants at the landmark.

While huge national chains have been banging at the door to get in on the act.

Gunwharf is on track to see profits surge by the end of this year, from the usual £100m, to around £160m

It’s no wonder then that Gunwharf Quays’ parent company, Land Securities, held the waterfront complex up in its annual report as ‘an example of best practice’.

While we should rejoice in the fact that Gunwharf is doing so well, our council and business leaders should not take their eyes off other areas that are maybe not so good at attracting customers.

The multi-million pound Northern Quarter project to transform Portsmouth’s city centre is currently on hold due to market conditions.

But city leaders should ensure that this is only a temporary delay and that all the good work by Gunwharf – as well as Port Solent – should be capitalised on.

Our surrounding towns must also act swiftly if they want to make sure their high streets and shopping precincts continue to do well in the future.

For years Gosport council has talked about redeveloping its waterfront, which enjoys the best views of the Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf. But so far little action has been taken. Transforming the bus station site would provide a major boost to the town, as long as it provides the right mix of retail and leisure.