Living Streets: More than a dozen Southsea shops rally around £30,000 green scheme that could transform two high streets

OFFERING more pavement than parks, high streets in Southsea are ripe for revitalising – and now a dozen businesses are calling on residents to support a creative project that may transform the area.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 11:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 11:43 am

The Living Streets project plans to transform parts of Albert Road and Highlands Road thanks to unique environmentally friendly street furniture, designed by two students from the University of Portsmouth.

Emulating similar schemes in London, Manchester, and Southampton, the new urban ‘parklets’ would feature comfortable and accommodating benches and seating, with plenty of ecosystem-supporting greenery and bike racks and lending libraries to encourage regular community use.

A total of 13 businesses across the two high street are backing the scheme after seeing the potential the project has to increase much-needed footfall.

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Southsea area councillor Charlotte Gerada and director of social enterprise Form+Function, Annabel Innes.

Now the businesses are calling on residents to show their support by donating to a crowdfunding campaign with a £30,000 target – which has to be hit before the end of the month.

Among those supporting the scheme is Duane Bradshaw, owner of coffee shop Broadway Coffee Roasters in Highland Road, who said he has been ‘blown away’ by the potential of the project.

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The businessman said: ‘Living Streets will help show the area in a whole new light, making it a popular destination for everybody. Once this happens it will definitely increase footfall. It will give tourists another part of Portsmouth to visit. Coming out of the pandemic it’s been very hard. It will make a massive difference to us.

The area outside Southsea Cycles in Albert Road, which could be transformed by the Living Streets project. Picture: Alex Shute

‘I cannot wait to see this come to fruition.’

The average loss of income for small and medium businesses due to the pandemic in the south east stands at £15,673, according to Annabel Innes, director of social enterprise Form+Function, which is coordinating the scheme.

Annabel said: ‘It’s about revitalising micro-high streets. Retail and those environments are struggling. What we want to do is bring back people with localisation.’

Designed by University of Portsmouth architecture students Jack Clark and Charlotte Hubbard, the street furniture is designed to bring people together with plenty of seating and canopies with plant coverings to provide shelter.

Living streets plans for Albert Road in Southsea. Picture: Studio slaughterhouse

These simple additions to the high street will create a much-needed space for the community to congregate, according to Jim Harbridge, the owner of Herbies Health Store, in Albert Road.

The business owner said: ‘As I am sure everyone is aware, Albert Road and Highland Road are comprised of independent businesses such as mine and there is a keen sense of community across our customer base that is keen to support local project that will benefit their immediate environment.

‘I know from being in the shop there is a lot of interest in Living Streets already.

‘The community’s pride in its independent nature translates into a desire to make our high street a more appealing place. We have a very environmentally conscious group of customers.

The area outside Broadway Coffee in Highlands Road, which could be transformed by the Living Streets project. Picture: Alex Shute

‘Being a small shop we have many customers who already know each other and they will enjoy having somewhere to chat either before or after their shopping. I strongly believe word will spread.’

And the project hopes to offer a safe haven not just for humans.

Living Streets will provide planters for a range of greenery including cabbages to attract butterflies, flowers to attract bees, foliage to provide shade, bird boxes, bat boxes and bug hotels.

The nature-nurturing scheme is sorely needed in wildlife deprived Portsmouth, according to Ian Boyd, an Isle of Wight based eco-consultant who is supporting the scheme.

The environmentalist said: ‘The National Biodiversty Network shows that the city only has 2,334 species, placing Portsmouth 299th out of 380 locations when it comes to species diversity.’

‘(Living Streets) is one of the most exciting projects I have come across.’

Living streets plans for Highland Road in Southsea. Picture: Studio slaughterhouse

The project has so far raised more than £3,200 thanks to donations from 63 supporters.

Now the team – which includes Southsea area councillors Charlotte Gerada and George Fielding – are hoping to reach their £30,000 target before fundraising closes on Monday, May 2.

The crowdfunding campaign is offering a rank of gifts and perks for those who donate. For £25, a donor can claim a coffee roasting taster experience with Broadway Coffee. Meanwhile for music-loving backers, donation of £40 will bag a bundle of five vinyl records from record store RPM in Highland Road. And foodies pitching in £30 will enjoy a vegetarian three course meal as part of a supper club from Albert Road cafe Hunter Gatherer.

The project had been offering the ability to dedicate a bench for a £60 donation – which have now been allocated thanks to huge popularity.

A Living Streets ‘pop up shop’ with donated items will be appearing at the Studio B Collective hair and beauty hub in Osborne Road on April 29.

Anyone wishing the support the scheme can do so by visiting crowdfunder.co.uk/p/living-streets-portsmouth.

Other green efforts in the city

THE Living Streets project is the latest in a growing trend of green schemes looking to breath life back into Portsmouth’s streets, with the city’s efforts attracting nationwide attention.

From community flowerbed planting to award-winning, multi-million developments, residents and organisations across the city are determined to turn Portsmouth into a greener city.

Later this month will see the opening of the University of Portsmouth’s new sporting centre in Ravelin Park, which has won a national award for its green design featuring an an urban orchard and a grass amphitheatre surrounded by biodiverse wildflowers.

Over the last three years, residents across Francis Avenue and Whitwell Road, in Southsea, and Tamworth Road in Copnor, have come together to turn their roads into ‘wilder streets’ - clearing refuse and installing bug hotels, bird boxes and pollinator plants – with support from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

In 2016 the Cornwallis Crescent Community Orchard was established in Buckland, which saw a wasteland half acre plot of land transformed into a community garden.

The orchard now hosts more than 40 different kinds of trees, including apples, pears, plums, and pomegranates.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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