Mixed reaction to huge Portsmouth park and homes planned for city centre

THE plans for a new large park in the centre of Portsmouth have been met with a mixed reaction from residents and local businesses.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:59 am

Portsmouth City Council has unveiled regeneration plans for the city centre, stretching from Charlotte Street to Hope Street to Commercial Road, following the purchase of the former Sainsbury’s site.

Business owner Naj Qader, who runs Galaxy Discount Store in Charlotte Street, said he was fearful it would mean the end of his livelihood.

He said: ‘I could lose my livelihood. I have built up this business since 2013. It will have a big impact on my life. I have put everything into this business.

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Business owner, Dave Giddings of Acorn Cycles, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘It could be really devastating for us as a small company.’

He called on the council not to forget the small traders and to help them to relocate.

His views were echoed by Dave Giddings, who runs Acorn Cycles, in Charlotte Street.

He said: ‘This is supposed to the the main shopping centre but it is an embarrassment. If you were an outsider coming into Portsmouth, the first thing you see is this area.

Gemma Walker with her dog, Bella in Charlotte Street, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Something needs to be done but this park is not it.’

However, residents sounded keen on the idea.

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Gemma Walker, 23, from nearby St Faith’s Road, lives in a flat and she welcomed the news.

Portsmouth residents, Gina and her sister Thea Pound Picture: Habibur Rahman

The charity shop worker said: ‘I think it is a good idea. It will bring the community together.’

Caitlin Rose, 20, a care assistant from Portchester, and her brother Alfie Rose, 18, a cook, said they thought it would make Portsmouth more attractive.

The pair frequently come into the centre to go shopping – and they felt a nicer green space would encourage them to visit more.

Caitlin said: ‘It sounds good. It is better than empty shops. It would be good for people with children and it would bring more people in.

Business owner, Naj Qader of Galaxy Discount Store

‘We have got enough empty units that need to be taken up. It would be a good thing.’

Alfie said: ‘It is better for the environment and it would be nice to be able to come shopping, grab some lunch and sit in a nice open space. It is a good idea.’

However Ron and Sue Nicholas, from Hilsea, were not as sure.

Sue, 63, said she was disappointed that the centre would not be following places like Southampton, which has seen redevelopment in the forms of shopping units and leisure facilities.

She said: ‘There is nowhere to shop in Portsmouth, the little shops we have left are not good enough. This will just mean more people going to Southampton.’

Ron said he felt that he had heard it all before. ‘The council has made plans like this before but it never comes off,’ he said.

Caitlin Rose and her brother Alfie Rose Picture: Habibur Rahman

Kenneth Austin, 72, who lives in Barkis House, said he was not happy.

He said he would prefer a mix of residential and commercial, and more support shown for independent traders.

He said: ‘The council are not thinking about the little man. It will be good for the environment but bad for Portsmouth.’

Sisters Gina and Thea Pound, who live in Tipner, were also divided.

Gina, 32, said: ‘It would be nice to have some green open space as they have been building everywhere round here, but they need to think about where they put it. I don’t think the city centre is a good place.’

Thea added: ‘It is the heart of the city and it would create more jobs if it was treated like the city centre with shops and businesses instead of a park.’

Taxi driver Faz Haque, 40, from Fratton, was also unsure.

He said: ‘Why do we need another park? There is one just on the other side of town. If anything the council should be investing in shops and encouraging businesses back into the centre. Without shops, who would want to come to the centre and sit in a park?’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Ron, 64, and Sue, 63, Nicholas from Hilsea Picture: Habibur Rahman
Taxi driver Fazlul Haque Picture: Habibur Rahman
Charlotte Street Picture: Habibur Rahman