Southsea seafront could have £1m funding bid approved

VIBRANT Canoe Lake in Southsea.     Picture: Stephen Hartley
VIBRANT Canoe Lake in Southsea. Picture: Stephen Hartley
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UP TO £1m could be spent on improvements to Southsea seafront.

Concerts at the Rose Gardens, and new cafes at Canoe Lake are among the plans Portsmouth City Council hopes to take forward if it wins a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Its leader for culture and leisure, Cllr Lee Hunt, said: ‘It’s a popular place for visitors and Portsmouth residents alike, but there are things we can do to make it look a little better, and link separate sites to one another.’

The fund gives £9 for every £1 the council puts in, with the authority contributing £100,000 to the scheme.

It would be spent on the Rose Gardens, to the east of Canoe Lake and landscaping to link Cumberland House natural history museum, on Eastern Parade, to the lake.

Plans also include rebuilding the lake’s side wall, and improvements to cafes, seating and new picnic areas.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘The plans aren’t all completed yet, and there will be other elements to what we want to do, but it’s a way in which we can make that area of the front, set back from the beach, a whole destination in itself.

‘It will be easier for visitors to see what’s on offer, and enjoy a day out, whereas they may otherwise just visit one of the attractions there.

‘There are improvements that can be made. At the moment, the Rose Gardens are beautiful, but they’re a little run-down.

‘This money will make a difference to them.

‘One idea is to put up a small facility there, maybe even just a bandstand, which could host evening concerts and quartets.

‘We want it to be easy for people to use this area more often, in a more enjoyable way.

‘And there are historic walls there, which are slowly tumbling down, which we’d work to sensitively repair.

‘With the cafe improvements, what we have there is good, and we’d want to keep it going, but we’d introduce some more variety, with healthier food and drinks on offer too.’

And the council plans to ask the public what they’d like to see in the area.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘We have ideas and schemes, but public input is important.

‘We will be doing this to improve people’s seafront experience, so we want them to enjoy what’s there and have a real say in what happens.’

Work is unlikely to begin until 2014, as a result of the fund’s lengthy application process. Seamus Meyer, Portsmouth’s parks and recreation manager, said: ‘Up to £1m could be available from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

‘The application process has two stages and that requires detailed research. If we were successful it is unlikely that works would start before 2014.

‘Canoe Lake is a popular location for both residents and visitors and the money would be an opportunity to make improvements for future years.’