New design for stretch of Southsea sea defences to be decided next week

CHANGES to the promenade at Southsea Castle proposed as part of the £131m flood defences project are in line to be approved by Portsmouth City Council next week.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 5:24 pm
The new design for the Southsea Castle stretch of the seafront

A report, published ahead of the meeting of its planning committee on Wednesday, recommends councillors approve the split-level path aimed at improving the ‘openness’ in the area.

It says the new design, which will also include terracing, was an 'improvement' over proposals in the wider council-led flood defences project, particularly benefitting the 16th-century castle.

Approved in December 2019, the £131m scheme is aimed at protecting a three-mile stretch of the Southsea coast and is the largest of its kind being pursued by any local authority.

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Work started at Long Curtain Moat last year and is expected to be completed in 2026.

But in May the city council put forward new proposals for the section at Southsea Castle, changing from a single higher level promenade to a split, part-terraced path.

Speaking at the time, cabinet member for planning, councillor Hugh Mason, said this would ‘improve the openness and accessibility of the area surrounding the castle’.

‘This should improve people's enjoyment of the area by providing improved sea views and better showing the castle itself in its historic setting,' he added.

And Historic England said the changes were 'an improvement on the existing plans' and would 'be a significant benefit to the scheduled site'.

Ahead of the planning application being considered by the council's planning committee on Wednesday, a report has recommended the new design be approved.

'The proposed changes by this application would still deliver a key and essential piece of infrastructure for the city for new flood and coastal erosion defences and contribute to the city's wider economic growth and regeneration,' it says.

'The proposal is considered an improvement in heritage terms and does not change the balance of substantial harm being outweighed by substantial public benefits.'

It adds that, subject to conditions imposed in 2019 being re-agreed, there would not be any 'significant adverse' environmental impacts of the new design.

A final decision will be made by councillors at next week's planning committee meeting.