Regeneration of Portsmouth city centre making steady progress with high hopes for the area set out

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Portsmouth is making steady progress with its city centre regeneration plans with three projects in the works – and more hopefully on the way.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council Steve Pitt has given an update on three key regeneration projects which it is hoped will transform the city centre with new homes, a new park and more commercial space among the shopping list of items expected to be created.

The projects centre around three main areas: the north of the city centre on the parcel of land currently home to Pitt Street Skatepark, within the former Sainsbury’s building, and the empty site next to it; the south of the city centre around the Guildhall; and finally the existing pedestrianised city centre itself.

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However questions remain about the future of the former Debenhams building which is still empty after previous plans for flats and retail units were shelved. The city council is also considering the future of its office space in the city centre with Portsmouth City Council choosing between downsizing or replacing its civic offices because they’re too big. Either option opens up the question as to what would happen with the office space deemed to be no longer needed.

An artist's impression of the proposed City Centre North public park in PortsmouthAn artist's impression of the proposed City Centre North public park in Portsmouth
An artist's impression of the proposed City Centre North public park in Portsmouth

However despite some uncertainty Mr Pitt said there was much to be positive about.

City Centre North

The Levelling-Up-funded city centre regeneration project was granted planning permission in October last year covering areas between Hope Street, Charlotte Street, and Commercial Road to the east. Plans to transform the northern part of the city centre will include residential units, a new public park and 10,000 sq m of commercial space. The development will be split into two phases, the first will comprise two blocks ranging from five to 15 storeys, providing a total of 550 homes, commercial floorspace and a public park spanning 7,000 sqm.

Councillor Steve Pitt, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said that timescales for development are currently being explored. “The intention was always with a scheme of that size not to build it all in one go,” he said. “The team are working on which parcel of land to bring forward first and what that might look like, whether it’s a partnership with a developer or whether it’s delivered through council housing or a joint venture with a housing association.”

An artist's impression of the City Centre North regeneration projectAn artist's impression of the City Centre North regeneration project
An artist's impression of the City Centre North regeneration project

City Centre Central

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The council is working with the future high streets task force to help reinvigorate the high street, particularly commercial roads, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Money from the Future High Streets Fund has funded new seating, planting, play equipment for children and new cycle stands.

City Centre South

Hope are still high that the south of the city centre will have a culturally-led regeneration despite a bid for levelling-up funding being unsuccessful in January last year. The plans would’ve “breathed new life” into Guildhall Walk and led to major refurbishment of The Guildhall and the Theatre Royal.

Cllr Pitt said that, despite the lack of levelling up funding, the project is still a long-standing aspiration of the council. He added that cultural offerings are “central to what we believe and understand about when regeneration is successful”.