OPINION was divided when the public got to have a close look at a developer’s plans for the Northern Quarter in Portsmouth .
More than 100 people had showed up for the first session of a three-day consultation in Marketway car park by the end of lunchtime yesterday.
In the proposed development are 50 to 60 shops, cafes and restaurants, two blocks of flats, a hotel and a cinema.
People taking their lunch break, passers-by and even a family asking for directions to the closest restaurant dropped in on the exhibition.
Graeme Chalk, head of project management and construction for Centros, the developer behind the proposal, said: ‘General feedback has been positive.
‘We have had previous planning permission but the comments have been positive. People like the introduction of leisure into the scheme. There was no cinema in the previous scheme.
‘It has overall been positive. It’s been about when it will be open, why it has not been built and which shops will be in the scheme. We don’t know that at the moment. We are letting people know that we are speaking to most of the large stores and it will be next year when we decide that.’
Businesses from the Commercial Road area, including the management of Cascades shopping centre, got a preview of the plans on Wednesday evening.
Mr Chalk said there was a good reception generally.
The consultation is now open for all to visit, with posters of the outline plans and time scales available.
‘We would encourage people to come and have a look. It is how we get the feedback on what we have drawn up,’ said Mr Chalk.
Not all visitors were positive about the company’s vision.
Portsmouth resident Marion Manser, 49, said: ‘I think that we have got enough shops here.
‘There are shops shutting in the high street. Why can’t we fill them?’
The consultation will be open today and tomorrow from 9am to 4pm both days.
Views at the exhibition
John Doughty, 67, of Milton
‘I was quite looking forward to it when they last proposed something. I have only had a brief look in and I have taken away some literature so I am reserving my judgement until I have finished reading through this.’
Paula Mason, 57, of Portsmouth
‘I think it is very good and I think you don’t know whether it is going to take business away from other areas. You will get a lot of tourism come in because of it. There will be people coming from out of the area and the ferry port will bring more to the city.’
Samantha Gillon, 34, of Portsmouth
‘So far I think it is quite a positive idea. We are definitely due for some regeneration. A lot of places are going for the same formula. The only part I am a bit worried about is that it is going to make it hard to get into town for pedestrians and buses.’
Leslie Watts, 66, of Hayling Island
‘I have just popped in to find out what it is all about. If it comes off it will be good. I think that it is needed.
‘It is just a car park at the moment.’
Richard Manser, 44, of Portsmouth
Some of it is good and some is not that good. Closing down small businesses that are around here was not good. I know the buildings need replacing. Why don’t they concentrate on the city’s football club? That’s for all of the people.’