With the Northern Quarter plans for Portsmouth city centre now officially dead in the water after years of raised hopes and false dawns, any realistic proposals for the area should be looked at with an open mind.
Obviously £2m is a significant reduction from the £300m that had been mooted for the creation of a new retail complex.
But something needs to be done to help rejuvenate this part of the city. Even the centre’s staunchest supporters would be hard-pressed to deny that it is in dire need of some TLC.
To call it ‘tired’, as the Tory cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic councillor Luke Stubbs does, would be viewed by many as something of an understatement.
And for anyone arriving in the city, particularly those who have entered Portsmouth via the M275, it doesn’t provide the best of first impressions.
Talk of improvements to the general street scene are welcome. However, we still have the remnants of the last time public art was put in the precinct ‘proudly’ on display.
The interactive art was a wonderful idea and while it worked it added an element of fun to the precinct. But it has long-since stopped functioning in the way it was meant to and remains in place as a sad testament to previous lofty intentions.
There is also the problem of empty units. Filling them with temporary shops during the Christmas period is a stop-gap at best.
While their pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap approach may help bring shoppers in, they could hardly be called an attractive addition to the centre, or a viable long-term proposition.
Something needs to be done to improve our city centre. Yes, internet shopping has chipped away at the traditional high street and, yes, the economy remains weak. But civic pride is something Portsmouth has proved it has in spades and it would be nice if that could be shown in the heart of the city.
A facelift of our city centre is long overdue.
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