Clarence Pier plan ‘could transform the seafront’

ALL CHANGE? Clarence Pier and, inset, seafront manager David Evans
ALL CHANGE? Clarence Pier and, inset, seafront manager David Evans

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MAJOR plans to redevelop Southsea seafront and Clarence Pier have received a warm welcome.

The News revealed on Thursday how Portsmouth City Council has drawn up a blueprint to transform the city centre and the seafront over the next 15 years.

Seafront manager David Evans

Seafront manager David Evans

Clarence Pier is highlighted as the key development site in the seafront masterplan.

Planners believe there is an opportunity to give the site a radical overhaul.

A transformation would mean removing the funfair and building a new hotel with conference facilities, leisure facilities, kiosks, a public waterside deck route and an enlarged hoverpad.

But the masterplan shows there is scope to enhance the existing pier by introducing a pedestrianised plaza, a new games arcade, and viewing pier.

David Evans, manager of Southsea seafront, described the blueprints as ‘gobsmackingly exciting’.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic.

‘We have invested several million in the area in the last few years and this will be the culmination of that.

‘I worked with the planners. We walked from Old Portsmouth along the whole seafront and we started to see what could happen.

‘I think the pier can be a focal point. It’s connecting the shopping area of Southsea, which is very nice, with the seafront.

‘I would like to stay in a hotel on the pier. You have got views looking out on to one of the best vistas in the country, without a shadow of a doubt.’

Jill Norman, director of Clarence Pier, said she is pleased the council is considering redevelopment for the site, adding it needs to remain a place where people can have fun.

She said: ‘In our opinion Clarence Pier is the gateway to Portsmouth Harbour and as such the eventual scheme to be agreed needs to bear that in mind.

‘For a lot of people the pier is the first thing they see when they approach Portsmouth by way of ferry, so it needs to be something with the “wow factor”, something iconic that the residents of Portsmouth can be proud of.’

The city and seafront masterplans will go before the council’s cabinet on Monday.

A seven-week public consultation will follow if the documents are voted through.

John Slater, head of planning at the council, said: ‘We believe that Clarence Pier is one of the few sites on the seafront where you could have redevelopment.

‘In terms of some of the buildings down there, they are getting tired and dated, but equally there are other uses, which is why people go to the seaside.

‘The hotel could have conference facilities looking over the harbour entrance.’

Vince Faithfull, chairman of the Southsea Association, said it was an exciting opportunity for the seafront but stressed community groups needed to be more involved if the plans come to fruition.

He added: ‘I an concerned about the revenue for it. There was talk about a big wheel and a bus station coming to the seafront in the past but that didn’t come together.’