New cafe to be opened on Southsea Common

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A SMALL part of Southsea Common will be lost to make way for a new cafe.

But planners are hoping the development will help rejuvenate Western Parade and take away an eyesore building.

Councillors on Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve plans to turn a run-down electricity substation into a cafe.

The development will include extensions to the east, west and south sides of the building – meaning that 80 square metres of protected open space will be lost.

But some residents said it would be worth it.

June Thomson, a neighbour, told the committee: ‘This is an excellent idea – to have someone who is prepared to spend a considerable amount of money to create a top-class tea room.

‘It will enhance the area. At the moment it looks an absolute eyesore.’

Alice Newberry, who has lived in the area 38 years, said: ‘Having a derelict building there has attracted more and more trouble.

‘I am desperate to see something done to that building.

‘Either blow it up or do something with it.

‘I would like to showcase how beautiful our city can be.’

But Michael Milne, who lives nearby, was worried about flooding.

He said: ‘The sewage system on Western Parade is at capacity.

‘There’s been several incidents of sewers overloading, causing flooding to Carlton House.’

Other residents raised concerns about parking provision.

Councillor Michael Andrewes, from St Jude’s Ward, told the committee it was ‘essentially an 85-seater restaurant opening until 9pm’.

‘To lose part of the Common is not outweighed by the public benefit,’ he 

Mark Hogan, a local chef who is behind the project, said: ‘I understand people’s worries.

‘But we want to create something that is attractive and people will come to all year round.’

The cafe will create 18 jobs and would be open daily from 8am to 6pm for most of the year and up to 9pm in the summer months.

The building has a mural to a young woman who died, Rachel Lyons, and some kind of tribute is planned in the new building.

Councillor Terry Hall, who sat on the planning committee, said: ‘If there were no building there at all, I would have a different view.

‘There’s an electricity substation there. It’s a good design.’