WORK is soon set to begin to demolish a former city centre bar later this month, regeneration bosses have confirmed.
Portsmouth’s former Drift in the City bar is to be levelled to make way for a new public space off Guildhall Square, near the war memorial.
The building had been empty since February 2013, apart from a six-month period of temporary occupation.
Regeneration chiefs at Portsmouth City Council said the work to demolish the ageing eyesore would help to transform the centre of the city, creating a ‘vibrant and attractive’ new open space.
Plans for landscaping work, which retains the existing trees, and improves views of the war memorial and the entrance to Victoria Park, will be announced by Portsmouth City Council after stakeholders have been consulted.
Councillor Ben Dowling, cabinet member for regeneration, said the demolition work would begin this month. He added: ‘This is a great opportunity to do something special with this space and to reconsider its role in the context of the wider city centre.
‘We're doing everything we can to make Portsmouth a better place to live and work and the quality of the public realm in the city centre is a really important part of what we're doing.’
The transformation project is expected to cost about £155,000. However, the proposal has not been universally popular in the council.
During a meeting in September, to discuss the future of the old bar, city Tory boss Councillor Donna Jones said demolishing the building was ‘short-sighted’.
She said: ‘The building is estimated to be worth between £300-£400,000, which is generous because it is in a bad state of repair. But it is a big space and it is worth doing up. 'Here we have a proposal to spend £150,000 to make a walkway when we could make £300,000 on it, or make £75,000 a year renting it out.'
The removal of the bar, in Isambard Brunel Road, is due to be completed early next year.