AMBITIOUS city leaders are battling for a grant which could pump up to £2m into a key independent shopping district.
Portsmouth City Council is preparing to submit a funding bid to the government’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme, which the authority hopes to invest into Castle Road in Southsea.
If successful, the road could bag between £500,000 and £2m from the overall pot of £44m being divided nationally.
The news comes just months after the Lib Dem administration launched a multi-million pound bid for Future High Street Fund, which could see up to £25m being invested into Commercial Road and Fratton Road.
Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader of the council, said the authority had decided to focus on Castle Road as it had ‘a large number of heritage assets’.
He said: ‘This is a great opportunity to rejuvenate a much-loved and historically important shopping centre.
‘This money could benefit the whole community, boost Portsmouth's economy and help to protect buildings that mean a lot to local people.’
The announcement has been welcomed by traders in the street, who are eager to see how the money could be used to enhance it.
Lorraine Randolph, owner of Revive Interiors, hoped the money would be used to clean up the pavement and introduce traffic-calming measures.
‘I'd be very pleased if we were given the grant,’ she said. ‘Castle Road has a great history and a beautiful, quirky like feel that just needs an injection of something.’
Pete Codling, artist and chairman of Castle Road Area Traders Associations said the grant could be huge for the street.
‘It would give us opportunities that we and the council can’t fund – we all have great ideas for Castle Road but not enough funds to do it,’ he added.
Castle Road has eight Grade II-listed buildings, eight locally-listed buildings and 18 other buildings of particular historic or architectural importance.
The council added it was still ‘committed’ to the city’s other shopping sites it is looking to enhance as part of its Future High Streets Fund’s bid.
The authority said applications for other city high streets will be made in 2020 as part of the second round of the funding scheme.