Residents have their say on the Commercial Road regeneration project set to improve the high street
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Members of the Portsmouth City Council regeneration team teamed up with the Aspex Gallery to host an interactive art workshop on Commercial Road from 10am today to give residents the opportunity to share their priorities and ideas for the area between Craswell Street and Charlotte Street on Commercial Road.
Tom Hall, the lead artist on the engagement project, was there to provide his expertise and help offer guidance to residents, encouraging them to get ideas on paper.
He said: ‘Sometimes to find information out, it’s much better to engage in a creative way. It’s just a map at the moment, to actually picture it is really hard for people so my mode is to get them to talk through creative means.’
Shoppers were invited to express their suggestions for the regeneration, set to be completed March 2024, on coloured rosette’s, drawing or writing them to be shared with the design panel.
Florentina Cardozo, project manager, said: ‘This project is part of a bigger project as part of the Future High Streets funding awarded to the council. We don’t have lots of money but we have lovely ideas and a great team, we’re aiming to finish on time and create something meaningful.’
Many locals shared their thoughts on the current state of the high street and how to improve it. One in particular, Michelle Bates from Southsea, was keen to push for further green spaces in the city to help revive the dwindling high street, an element the team have high on their agenda for the regeneration.
She said: ‘It’s dead, they’ve closed everything, I'd like to see a more vibrant place to be, shops for everybody. I’ve always hoped that something nice will happen down here, how about making allotments and green areas more available to people so they can start growing their own food and start producing for the whole community to enjoy?’
‘Somewhere you can go and be free to grow your own,’ she added.
66-year-old Nigel Lingley, from Cosham, was keen to see more facilities for the disabled, from public toilets to improved methods of communication.
He said: ‘You need somewhere for people who are disabled who can go and get jobs and work. My son is autistic, he’s 30 years old and I can’t get him a job. If you had a community space or cafe where organisations could get together and spread the word, the community would be a lot better and it would create jobs.’
He added: ‘It’s all nice these ideas but it takes too long to come to reality. Seeing is believing!’
Sally Johns, from Portsmouth, had a lot of hope for the once bustling centre and was eager to see what the team would come up with.
‘It’s a compact area, it’s got a lot of potential,’ she said. ‘It just needs someone with a bit more imagination than I've got to do something about it so I think this is great. If you can encourage a bit more market trade that would be nice, it’s a shame we’ve lost a couple of the big stores, the pandemic didn’t help.’