That’s the message from chief executive Andy Cullen, who has stressed the need for cooperation from all stakeholders to meet Portsmouth City Council requirements over accessibility.
Meanwhile, the neighbouring Pompey Centre are proposing 250 residential dwellings and additional commercial use, representing large-scale regeneration of the area.
Crucially, the Portsmouth Local Plan, which was released in September, states: ‘Improvement of public transport links to and from the ground will be a key issue to address to support any expansion of the stadium and associated development.
‘The development of a new direct pedestrian link from Fratton railway station would be required to significantly reduce the pedestrian use of Goldsmith Avenue.’
And Cullen acknowledges that unless such planning criteria is met, Pompey will struggle to realise their ambition.
He told The News: ‘The redevelopment around Fratton Park will allow Pompey to increase our capacity should we get all these things in place, but it also has economic benefits to the wider city and wider community.
‘Just looking at the footbridge, for example, it impacts on a number of different stakeholders.
‘To make things happen, you need to work with Network Rail because the footbridge goes onto their land and site. There is also council land, while some of the area comes close to the Pompey Centre and also its tenants.
‘Through Stephen Morgan, who was keen to understand the situation, we have engaged in discussions with Network Rail. But it’s going to take some time.
‘Previously, Mark Catlin held discussions with Network Rail and the council, yet this was prior to the pandemic – and things after that had come to a standstill.
‘In September we had a meeting and looked at some options, yet the next stage is reliant on seeing other plans from other stakeholders and whether we can all join up to make something happen.
‘The council are looking at a new pedestrian link from Fratton railway station. I am not so sure the particular route shown in the Portsmouth Local Plan is the best route, but there may be other options.
‘Nonetheless, the council are really supportive of what we can do and how we can make it work. That’s encouraging.
‘However, what they are saying is: ‘If you want to increase capacity, all these things need to improve’.
‘Otherwise, I don’t think you could get planning consent on a new North Stand.’
Previously, the issue of a new footbridge from Fratton railway station was perceived as solely Pompey’s problem.
Cullen added: ‘The other day, just before kick-off, I walked down Goldsmith Avenue to experience the road for myself.
‘If it’s people going one way then it’s okay, but, when you have someone coming in the other direction with a pram or in a wheelchair, the pavements just aren’t wide enough to cope with the conflict of pedestrian traffic.
‘We want to make it safer and the most obvious way is by creating another access, which benefits not just the football club, but the wider community.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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