IT’S a mammoth £100m project that’s been on the cards for five years, but now the public will get a look at the future of Southsea’s sea defences.
Consultations for the scheme start today at Eastney Community Centre and will offer information on proposals for eight areas of the seafront, with the opportunity to provide feedback via questionnaires.
The project, that will protect more than 8,000 homes from flooding, has the potential to be the single biggest local authority-led flood defence scheme in the country with a predicted cost of more than £100m.
READ MORE: Why is the coastal defence work needed?
Although an initial consultation ran in 2014, this is the first time people in Portsmouth will have the chance to vote on the detailed impressions.
The council’s environment boss, Cllr Dave Ashmore, will be heading a cross-party group that will consider the responses from the consultations. He said: ‘I don’t know what people are going to go for in the feedback. We really want people to get involved, we’re being as open with this as possible.
‘This time we’re taking consultations to areas outside of Southsea like Cosham and Anchorage Park because everyone uses the seafront at Southsea.
‘It’s so important that everyone gets a look and has a say.’
Portsmouth City Council has been working alongside several other groups such as construction company Balfour Beatty to deliver the proposals, known as the Southsea Coastal Scheme. When developing ideas several matters had to be taken into consideration such as retaining beach access and views of the seafront and preserving historical landmarks like the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Following criticism of past designs that included step-like terraces down to the water and walls of over a metre in height, these most recent designs are considerably less dramatic in comparison, with sloping walls and raised promenades.
Eight areas of the seafront have been recognised as part of the scheme including Long Curtain Moat, Clarence Pier, Southsea Common, The Blue Reef Centre, Southsea Castle, The Pyramids and Rock Centre, South Parade Pier, Canoe Lake and Rose Gardens and Eastney Esplanade.
Long Curtain Moat will be one of the first to be tackled as a high priority area, whereas there is reason to believe work on Eastney Esplanade might not be necessary for another 50 years.
Some sections have more than one design in the pipeline, such as South Parade Pier, which could see a wall built on the existing defence and rocks leading down to the beach to reduce wave energy or the lowering and widening of the promenade.
There are also two proposals for Southsea Common, with one resulting in a pedestrian-only promenade and the other creating a one-way road and parking. Both will see the frontage raised above its existing level.
However, architect and University of Portsmouth lecturer, Walter Menteth, believed the plans were not designed with the future in mind. He said: ‘They need to be building in the long term, in terms of how the seafront is defended.
‘Pedestrianising the common promenade is a step forward as it means people will be able to get to the beach more easily. ‘But if all they’re planning to do is raise the promenade it won’t give it future robustness.’
Prof Menteth was also concerned the views of the public would not be considered.
‘The ideas aren’t open, that’s the problem.
‘They are closed ideas, which don’t invite people to challenge them.
‘People are just being asked to accept or reject a number of options,’ he said.
Southsea Seafront Campaign member Celia Clark, agreed with his views.
She attended a sea defence workshop ahead of the consultation and added: ‘We have waited a long time for this.
‘I hope they have taken on board what people are saying.
‘But what is the point in having a workshop now if they have already put plans together for the consultations?
‘If they really wanted to know what we thought why were they holding a workshop the day before consultations?’ The final public consultation will be held on July 20
The council is expected to submit the planning permission in 2019 with construction to begin the same year.
- Canoe Lake Tennis Pavilion: July 6, 1.30pm-7.30pm
- Aspex Gallery: July 10, 1pm-7pm
- Anchorage Park Community Centre: July 11, 3pm-7pm
- St. Jude’s Church Southsea: July 12, 1pm-7pm
- Cosham Community Centre: July 16, 3pm-7pm
- Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club: July 17, 1pm-7pm
- Fratton Community Centre: July 20, 1pm-7pm
Click on the link at the top of the story to see the full gallery of images.