THOUSANDS of new homes could be built in the heart of Portsmouth in a fresh multimillion-pound plan to transform the city centre.
But the renewed push to turn around its fortunes finally sounds the death knell for the original and highly ambitious £500m Northern Quarter project.
Retail has changed significantly over the past decade and it is inevitable that regeneration plans have to change too.Maureen Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce
Council officials want to scrap pursuing a single large shopping centre on land around the former Tricorn Centre site and instead trigger the creation of 2,600 homes as part of a new strategy called City Centre North.
It’s hoped land between Princess Royal Road and Cascades Shopping Centre will be freed up for businesses to move in and create 9,700 jobs in retail and leisure – ensuring shops, restaurants and bars remain in the plans – once a new city road network enabling traffic to move more freely is created.
The details are contained in council papers unveiling the city’s vision for the next 10 years.
Business figures say it’s crucial the plans to transform the city centre finally happen to ensure it ‘does not fall behind’.
Rhoda Joseph, centre director for Commercial Road’s Cascades Shopping Centre, said: ‘We have been waiting 15 years for the redevelopment of the city centre, so the sooner this is developed, the better.
‘We don’t want to see Portsmouth get left behind, which it is in danger of at the moment, so these proposals to deliver development are great.’
She added: ‘It’s imperative the residential element of this capital programme is delivered.
‘We are also very short of leisure and food and beverage in the city centre. It’s much lower than in cities such as Southampton, Brighton and Cambridge.
‘We are falling behind in what we offer to our citizens in Portsmouth.
‘The council says there is a shortage of residential housing, yet so much property in the city centre has been converted into student accommodation.
‘That’s something we also need, but the next phase of property development needs to be for the non-student market, because the position is unbalanced.’
Maureen Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, backed the plan and said changes were inevitable.
And she said a high-quality road network will enable more visitors to come and see the world-class events the region is attracting.
She said: ‘The redevelopment of Portsmouth city centre is long overdue, and these plans to improve the road network will help to attract interest from developers.
‘Retail has changed significantly over the past decade and it is inevitable that regeneration plans have to change too.
‘Whilst the new plans include significantly more housing, increasing the number of city-centre-based residents will automatically lead to a more vibrant centre and the businesses needed to support this will start to appear.
‘With the increase in high-profile events being held in Portsmouth, having a quick and efficient route through the city will also be of benefit to visitors to the city.’
Civic leaders are now preparing to launch a bid to the government and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership for £21m to go with £15m it’s already got for the road network so the entire project can happen.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Rebuilding the bottom of the M275 to create a new city centre road is key to improving journey times entering the city. This is a top priority for the council.
‘I’m delighted we have been able to allocate £15m to the scheme.
‘The estimated cost of the new road is in excess of £36m and we’re applying to the government and Solent LEP for external funding.
‘The road forms part of the new City Centre North development replacing in part the former Northern Quarter site.
‘The City Centre North development would be larger than the previous Northern Quarter development taking in more residential housing than previously planned, but with a new shopping centre and leisure offer.
‘The road would improve traffic flow for residents and visitors to get in and out of the city, but equally importantly, it would also allow the development of a significant amount of land in the city centre that we estimate would create 2,600 new homes and 9,700 permanent jobs.’
NORTHERN QUARTER TIMELINE
2003/2004: Developer Centros carries out a master plan of the Tricorn Centre site to determine the benefits of the Northern Quarter.
March 2004: Demolition of the Tricorn Centre begins.
November 2005: An outline planning application is submitted for a £300m, 900,000 sq ft retail-led development with two anchor stores, 80 shops, hotel, 200 apartments and 2,300 parking spaces. The investment rises to £500m.
2006-2008: Detailed designs for the buildings are submitted for various parts of the scheme - with all of these being approved in stages.
November 2008: Legal challenges against land being bought up around the Tricorn site for the development are thrown out in the High Court.
The result means Portsmouth City Council is able to carry out compulsory purchase orders on about 200 properties and transfer them into the hands of Centros.
2009: The scheme is put on hold due to impact of the recession.
It means some properties sitting on land needed for the development are not acquired.
October 2013: New plans for the Northern Quarter are put out for consultation. The smaller £300m scheme now includes a department store, 50 to 60 shops, a central leisure hub with a cinema, apartments and parking spaces.
October 2014: Centros reveals it is ‘enthusiastically’ pushing forward with the Northern Quarter despite no planning application being submitted.
November 2014: Council reveals the Northern Quarter scheme will no longer go ahead as originally planned and an alternative development needs to be found.
July 2016: Council severs legally-binding deal with developer Centros to build the scheme to allow another firm to come up with fresh plans.
July 2016: Council admits it needs a plan to claw back the £2m it had spent helping to bring to life the Northern Quarter.
A separate bill of £280,000 is owed in court costs.
February 2017: Council tops up fund to build road scheme to trigger city centre regeneration to £15m.