FEEDBACK from more than 1,400 members of the public is starting to shape the future of Southsea's coast.
Since the public consultations on sea defence plans that ran in Portsmouth this summer, the team behind the proposals have been working to incorporate suggestions from residents.
The most contentious issue of the £120m scheme proved to be the option for pedestrianisation in areas such as Southsea Common and Canoe Park Lake as questionnaires revealed a preference from many to keep the roads. Adding in cycle lanes along most of the seafront was also a popular choice.
Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and community safety said: 'We always promised that we'd act on the public's feedback, and I'll be discussing the recommendations with my cross-party working group colleagues.
'The public want to keep vehicular access, so we'll be looking to take that forward but with the option of future pedestrianisation available as part of the design, so as people's travel usage changes, we can react to that. We'll look to slow down traffic and make it much more pedestrian and cycle friendly than it is now.'
The designs presented at the consultations were flexible to further change. Cllr Ashmore added: 'Lots more work has gone on behind the scenes on things like hi-tech wave modelling, which means the engineers are able to continue to reduce the heights of the defences further by having wider beaches.
'This changes the solution at South Parade Pier that wasn’t that popular, meaning we can keep direct access to the beach and use much less rock which can be buried under the shingle.
'It also means that defences at Eastney Esplanade can be kept at the same level as now. They can also address concerns about parking, by re-designing the road on the Canoe Lake frontage so some on-street parking can be kept on the seafront around here.'
The scheme will cover 2.8 miles of coastline from Long Curtain Moat to Eastney beach and is designed to protect over 8,000 existing properties, 700 businesses, and multiple heritage sites from the risk of flooding.
Residents will be briefed by the team again on a more finalised plan before the planning application is submitted in early 2019.
Paul Leach, 61, of Southsea said: 'I’ve attended meetings about this and it’s good that they’re doing something about it.
'I would love if Southsea Common was entirely pedestrianised, but they have to consider less-abled people who rely on their car.’
Rob Johnston, 61, from Southsea added: 'I agree with Paul and am glad that they’re doing something about it. I also think by pedestrianising the area it will encourage more cycling - if people know the area is cycle friendly, they’re more likely to opt for their bike rather than their car.'
Portsmouth resident Noah Povilaitis, 19, added: 'If it’s preparing for the future then I think it is important because climate change is going to take effect in 10 to 20 years and if nothing is done the impact of that would be so much worse than some unsightly sea barriers.'
Public feedback in numbers:
Consultation event attendees: more than 1,700
Consultation questionnaire responses: 1,427 (305 written/1,122 online)
Average time taken responding: 25 minutes
Facebook reach during consultation: 215,034 users
Facebook users who engaged with the content: 10,933
Website visits during consultation: 9,198 sessions
Consultation animation video views: 3,800