PROPOSALS to turn the Portsmouth and Gosport coastline into a part of a national coast path have been unveiled today.
Natural England has launched a public consultation to turn the 28.5 mile stretch of coast into a section of the England Coast Path, creating a signposted walking route around the area.
Starting from Solent Airport in Lee-on-the-Solent, the route will use existing pathways, signposted by Natural England, to take walkers right around the coastline to Portsmouth Harbour.
The route will go around Stokes Bay, through Gosport waterfront and Priddy’s Hard, up to Fareham and along past Portchester Castle, before heading past Port Solent and Lakeside before heading from Hilsea to Portsmouth Harbour.
Andrew Smith, Natural England’s area manager for Hampshire, said: ‘We have had discussions with many landowners and key organisations along the proposed Gosport to Portsmouth route; their input has been essential and helped shape the proposals – we thank everyone for their time and input so far.
‘Over the next eight weeks, we are inviting all organisations, farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to have their say.
‘It’s important that all responses are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.’
The route would be the third section of coastline in Hampshire to be developed.
But more than just providing a clearly-signposted route for walkers, the coast path would also secure legal rights to public access, and could see some improvements to coastline protection.
Tim Hall from England Coast Path Hampshire says that the route will also be amended in the future, both to match coastal erosion but also the changing access routes in the area.
He said: ‘At the moment we would be using existing footpaths, signposting them as being part of the England Coast Path.
‘But once the development at Tipner in Portsmouth goes ahead, we will be adjusting the route to use some of the pathways created there.
‘The biggest selling point of this route is the heritage you can take in, taking you to places like Hardway and Portchester Castle.’
The consultation period will last for eight weeks.
This matter will then be considered by a planning inspector before the secretary of state makes a final decision.