AMBITIOUS new multi-million-pound plans for Portsmouth city centre include major road alterations and the replacement of a key roundabout with a market square.
In what has been dubbed ‘one of the biggest projects Portsmouth has ever seen’, the city council proposes to boost traffic flow and ‘breathe life’ into Commercial Road.
The core proposal of the project – which could total £60m – is to turn Hope Street and Flathouse Road into a dual carriageway to help funnel both northbound and southbound traffic quicker through Portsmouth.
Alongside this, both Market Way and Church Street roundabouts would be replaced by traffic signal junctions, with a new public square or marketplace developed at the top of Commercial Road.
The new vision forms the centrepiece of the City Centre North development – which replaced the £500m Northern Quarter project earlier this year.
It would see 2,600 homes built around the former Tricorn Centre site between Princess Royal Road and the Cascades Shopping Centre.
It will involve a significant rebuild of the bottom of the M275 which will improve traffic flow or those coming in to the city to our tourist hot-spots in the south and to make it easier for people to drive out.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
High-rise towers would be constructed to create apartments and business space, with the aim to bring in shops, restaurants and bars – creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Further details on the project – which will coincide with the new road scheme – were being unveiled at a meeting this morning.
Outlining her vision for the road scheme, Councillor Donna Jones, Conservative leader of the council, said ‘this is all about Commercial Road’.
She said: ‘This is a substantial road scheme that we have been waiting to unveil to residents and developers for some time which will breathe oxygen back into Commercial Road and bring it to life.
‘It will involve a significant rebuild of the bottom of the M275, which will improve traffic flow for those coming in to the city to our tourist hotspots in the south and to make it easier for people to drive out.’
To fund the development, the city council has put £12m of its own cash aside and has submitted a bid for £25m to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
It has also submitted a bid to the government’s housing infrastructure fund to access the remaining millions.
Cllr Jones added: ‘This is about freeing up space to build thousands of new homes, reducing air pollution and bringing a stunning development to the Commercial Road area.
‘It is one of the biggest projects Portsmouth has ever seen and I am delighted the public can now see the plans.’
Opposition leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the road changes ‘was the sensible thing to do’.
He said: ‘The turning of Hope Street into a dual carriageway is nothing new and has been around for eight years, but it is interesting to hear of the plans to create public squares.
‘It also looks like a reverse of the Northern Quarter in that it’s more residential and has less retail on the site.
‘We could have had a John Lewis store on Market Way and I would prefer that to a public square.’
He added: ‘You have to consider that this relies on government funding and Portsmouth has been snubbed before.’
The proposals go out to public consultation today with a planning application due next month.
If approved and funding is secured, work could commence on site by 2019.
CHURCH IS KEY ASSET
A church will be hailed as a key city asset under the proposals unveiled for the centre’s road network.
By replacing the Church Street roundabout with a new traffic signal junction, shared pedestrian and cycling space is set to be opened up and showcase the garden landscape of the surrounding area.
It is hoped that the works will allow the opportunity to create community areas for quiet reflection and gatherings.
A market square would also be constructed at the north of Commercial Road as part of the works on Market Way roundabout.
The consultation on the road scheme will run from today until November 1.
Public information sessions on the plans will be held in Cascades Shopping Centre near TK Maxx from 9am to 6pm tomorrow and on Saturday.
Information displays will be present in the Civic Offices and at 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour. More information on the scheme is available at portsmouth.gov.uk/citycentreroad.