THE man behind a petition backing plans to redevelop Old Portsmouth’s historic arches says it’s time for everyone to show their support.
As previously reported, Portsmouth City Council wants to turn them into art studios and put glass panels on the front.
The move has split the community in half, with a petition against it yesterday attracting 1,686 signatures and another in support reaching 1,720 names. The scheme aims to transform the area into an arts and crafts quarter.
Music promoter Nick Courtney, who set up the petition in favour, said he’s fed up with Portsmouth residents who oppose redevelopment because it’s on their doorstep.
He said they should stop thinking about themselves and acknowledge how much the scheme would benefit everyone instead.
‘It’s happening everywhere in Portsmouth,’ he said.
‘Plans are blocked by local residents and they are the ones with the biggest voice.
‘They are the ones at home who object to planning permission.
‘I have been up in that area of Old Portsmouth lots of times. It’s an area that nobody uses. If you go inside the arches, they smell of urine.
‘By cleaning them up and making it into a nice area you are revitalising and preserving what’s there.
‘We’re turning something which has no purpose into something which has a purpose, and that can only be a good thing.
‘That’s why more than 1,600 people have agreed.’
He’s told Anita Stepnitz, who is leading the opposition, it’s wrong to think local businesses would be badly affected – because if more visitors come along then they’ll thrive.
Miss Stepnitz, of Old Portsmouth, said the public consultation which was carried out didn’t take into account what local people wanted.
‘There hasn’t been that level of consultation,’ she said.
‘It seems to be about what artists want but nobody has asked residents what we would like to see here.’
Miss Stepnitz also questioned how long it will last because she said the Hot Walls cafe which ran this summer failed to gain popularity.
‘It’s never been about, “we have to win”,’ she said.
‘It’s simply about whether the business case is sound.
‘On the small scale, it’s not.’
The plan will be discussed at a planning meeting at a date to be confirmed.