Two projects which must now spark a renaissance

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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Two projects: one for motorists, the other for those who use public transport. Both are hoping to achieve the same goal – make south-east Hampshire a whole lot more attractive to those who would invest here.

Both schemes attracted the interest of transport minister Norman Baker yesterday.

He saw work start on the first motorway junction in Hampshire for about 20 years – a spur off the M275 at dilapidated Tipner in Portsmouth.

At the second he took a bus ride along the old Fareham-Gosport railway line which is now a bus-only corridor trying to tempt people from their cars to avoid the A32 nightmare.

Both schemes are worthy of praise (although we think the supertram system once planned for the Gosport peninsula and emerging in the heart of Portsmouth via an under-harbour tunnel, made greater sense).

A new motorway junction hardly gets the adrenaline rushing. But it’s the thought of the Pandora’s box it might open which does excite.

As we have said before, the redevelopment of tatty Tipner, the gateway to Portsmouth which has been a blot on the landscape for so long, must be a priority if the city is ever to become a major regional shopping and leisure hub.

The huge park and ride planned there, with access from that new junction, should attract more people to Portsmouth, people who are currently put off by the city’s inadequate car parks and chronic congestion.

If it works it will be £28m of our money well spent; if, and it’s a big if, the Northern Quarter redevelopment of the Commercial Road is finished by 2018. We remained to be convinced.

At Gosport, the bus route has got off to an acceptable start. Hampshire councillors and First Bus bosses used Mr Baker’s visit to press him for an extra £8m – cash needed to take the route into the heart of Gosport and perhaps on to the redeveloped Daedalus site.

Both projects are laudable. If they work they will surely make Portsmouth and Gosport more attractive to those bringing jobs to the area.