Town could have its own waterfront statement

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Ever since the Spinnaker Tower rose high into the sky above Portsmouth harbour, the people of Gosport have looked across the water at this iconic structure.

They’ve also watched with envious eyes as Gunwharf Quays has been transformed from the old HMS Vernon site into an extremely popular shopping, entertainment and residential development.

But now it seems the town could have the opportunity to make its own bold architectural statement on the opposite waterfront.

We’re delighted to see that council leaders are to consult the public on plans to knock down the town’s bus station and replace it with a new building across from the Spinnaker Tower.

What it could be has yet to be decided – and that’s where residents can make their views count.

Suggestions so far include a conference centre and hotel, offices or even a theatre.

A £20,000 grant from Hampshire County Council means a major public consultation can now take place on a project that it is hoped would eventually form the centrepiece of Gosport’s own exciting multi-million pound waterfront development of shops, restaurants, offices and homes – if a developer can be found to pay for it.

Council leader Mark Hook is right when he says ‘we need to stop talking about it and start doing something.’

We’re sure the people of Gosport want something they can feel really proud of, just like Portsmouth has Gunwharf and the tower.

But already there’s a snag. Waterfront development would mean demolition of the town’s bus station and Councillor Peter Chegwyn, leader of the Gosport Lib Dems, says that’s ‘bonkers’.

At a time when people should be encouraged on to public transport, he’s right to raise concerns. But if lay-bys can be used to pick up passengers and the service doesn’t suffer, then the town could do without a bus station.

This is a wonderful opportunity for Gosport to put itself on the map and must not be squandered. As resident Percy Vickers says so succinctly: ‘It will be nice to see us competing with the other side.’