Portsmouth City Council is setting out its ambitions and plans to create a more vibrant, welcoming and greener city centre that has the flexibility to evolve with the times. The council is inviting residents to get involved in reimagining the city centre and share their ideas and priorities for different areas in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development said: “We need to seize the moment to take a fresh look at what our city centre can be, how it can best serve our communities, our retailers and businesses and become an adaptable and vibrant focal point for future generations. There are already over 20 projects underway to make improvements and pave the way for the future of the city centre, but we have big ambitions for Portsmouth city centre and there’s a lot we want to achieve. We want people to share their big ideas and priorities for the future with us so we can create a city centre that flies the flag for Portsmouth.”

To support its ambitions, the council has submitted a bid for over £19 million from the Levelling Up Fund to spearhead improvements that would see new creative community spaces, better facilities, and greener, more welcoming streets – breathing new life into areas like Guildhall Walk that have felt the impact of changing habits and the coronavirus pandemic. If successful, the bid would also support a major refurbishment of The Guildhall and the Theatre Royal.

The council has also secured over £800,000 of funding from the Future High Streets Fund, Safer Streets Fund and Safety of Women at Night Fund to make improvements to areas around Commercial Road. These improvements aim to create new welcoming outside spaces where people can sit, relax and play, as well as take steps to tackle crime and combat violence against women and girls in public spaces.

“We’re working with partners and experts to unlock new opportunities like the Levelling Up Fund and Future High Streets Fund and looking at where the council has the capability to step in and drive regeneration forward,” adds Councillor Pitt. “We want culture to lead the way with new and inviting public spaces, innovative events, art, music, cafes and restaurants sitting alongside well-known and independent retailers. Where private developments are being proposed, we need to make sure that they are going to support our ambitions and play their part in delivering the right mix for a revitalised city centre.”

The north of the city centre will see some of the biggest changes. The council is working on proposals for new homes, a large open green space and new walking and cycling routes. The plans would the see the redevelopment of the former Tricorn and Sainsbury’s sites which the council bought to unlock the opportunity for long-term regeneration that will support the wider revitalisation of the whole city centre.

These improvements will complement plans already in place as part of the South East Hampshire Rapid Transit projects. The council has submitted plans for a new two-way bus lane along Unicorn Road and Cascades Approach, along with safer crossing points for people walking and cycling, and a new shared cycle and footpath on Unicorn Road.

Over the coming months, people in Portsmouth will be invited to learn more about the vision for the city centre and share their ideas and priorities for the area through city-wide consultation, pop-up events, focus groups and creative workshops. The council’s regeneration team will also be reaching out to key communities including businesses, retailers, special interest groups, schools and colleges.