Who will fill this grand new scheme on opening?

New commercial life is sprouting in Copnor Road

VERITY LUSH: Green shoots of recovery sprouting in northern Portsmouth

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The developer behind the latest plans for the city’s Northern Quarter have said that more than 80 per cent of people have given them positive feedback about their proposals.

Admittedly, this is just a snapshot, and there will be other consultation beyond just what was taken at a three-day exhibition.

With more than 700 people through the doors, it is clear that the public are taking a keen interest in what will happen to this site – it will soon be 10 years since the Tricorn was demolished.

And much as that building was reviled in its day, you can now hear people wax nostalgically about it in lieu of anything else having appeared to take its place.

But it is encouraging that most people appear to back the broad vision for the area.

However, there is one question that is coming up again and again: what will the department store be?

Last time landowners Centros got this far, John Lewis was attached to the scheme, as were Marks and Spencer and New Look.

Back in 2008, John Lewis told The News: ‘Good times and bad times come and go, but when the Northern Quarter opens, we’ll be there.’

In light of the financial firestorm since then, it would be unfair to hold them to those comments.

But as it stands at the moment, they are conspicuous by their absence.

And the lack of John Lewis or any other major name could be seen as a blow to the credibility of the project.

At a time when the high street is struggling for survival, some are also questioning the legitimacy of a scheme like the Northern Quarter. Who will take these 50-60 new stores?

If Centros could announce a big name backer in the shape of a quality department store, it would help boost the project in many people’s eyes.

Obviously, though, this is just one element of a very complex scheme.

We wish the scheme every success – it is an area long overdue for regeneration, and we hope Centros have got something good up their sleeves.