Fate of records office in Portsmouth to be 'reconsidered' after campaign backed by Stephen Fry for Sherlock Holmes museum
THE fate of an historic Portsmouth building that was due for demolition will be 'reconsidered' following a campaign backed by actor Stephen Fry.
Portsmouth's culture boss, Councillor Steve Pitt, confirmed a full condition survey on the records office building, in Old Portsmouth, would be carried out and the public would be informed of the next steps.
As reported, proposals had been put forward by the council to knock down the disused building to make way for new homes - a bid that came under fire from more than 1,000 city residents who signed a petition in objection.
And ahead of a debate on the site during yesterday's full council meeting, Stephen Fry put his name to a deputation calling for the building to be transformed into a Sherlock Holmes museum to display the city's 14,000-piece Arthur Conan Doyle collection.
Speaking at the meeting Cllr Pitt said there had been ‘formal decision on demolition’ yet.
‘This city needs a Sherlock-Doyle experience,' he said.
‘However, it is absolutely essential that the right location is found and that what is created is of excellent quality to do justice to the city's claim on the great detective.
‘In order to provide an accurate current picture of the situation with the old records office, we have instructed an up to date full condition survey of the building, to include full costings on what it would take to bring the building back to usable condition.’
He added: 'Separately, we will ask for the feasibility work on the site's suitability for a Sherlock-Doyle experience to be refreshed, so that there is a full understanding of the issues and will report back on both at a public meeting as soon as possible.'
A motion to debate the future of the building was brought to the council by Tory Cllr Matthew Atkins.
He said: ‘It’s a historical building, it's an attractive building. It's one the residents of St Thomas want to see preserved.’
The campaign to save the building was originally started by St Thomas ward Tory activist Alicia Denny and Gunwharf Quays resident Alvin Edyvane.
‘We achieved our objective of seeking a re-think on the building's future,’ Ms Denny said.
‘We also re-ignited enthusiasm for the task of finding or developing a proper home for the Lancelyn Green bequest of Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle artefacts and, I hope, the strength of feeling generated by our campaign will encourage councillors not only to be more imaginative with planning decisions but also to realise the importance of the widest possible consultation.’
Mr Edyvane added: ‘We are clearly over the moon with the result and so pleased that the right decision has been made for the city, its constituents and for the museum site.’