Following the purchase of the former Sainsbury's site in the city centre, Portsmouth City Council have now unveiled their fresh-thinking regeneration plans.
A multi-functional, green space will not only serve existing communities and users of the city centre but will also be the linchpin for new homes and a new community. The ambitious long-term plans extend beyond the former Sainsbury's site, and the proposed development sees a phased approach of work that could total 9 hectares of land.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said, "We are determined to completely change the dynamic of this area, creating a new positive energy for residents, businesses and visitors, and we can now do that, thanks to owning a significant site. We have already hit the ground running by facilitating a brand-new community skatepark, and now we want to share our exciting long-term plans for that northern aspect of the city centre."
During the pandemic, Portsmouth's parks and open spaces were used up to three times more than normal. This is unsurprising when we consider that in some neighbourhoods as many as 43% of people do not have access to a garden. With the exception of Victoria Park, there are no other significant green areas within the city centre.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson continued, "It's widely recognised that our city centre needs to evolve with the times; just look at the current situation with high street retail, for example. From working and travelling to feeling safe and healthy, if there is one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that people need access to natural open space, especially in built-up areas."
However, the plans go beyond creating a beautiful park. The proposed green space will work in tandem with the council's other regeneration projects, such as prioritising pedestrian and cycle travel, supporting local business, and delivering new homes.
"What has impressed me most about these plans is how the design of this shared green space can serve so many good things that we are trying to do in the city centre. Improving opportunities for biodiversity, sustainable travel, the local economy, and people's health - both physical and mental, are all addressed in the principles of the design. As the project progresses, I am looking forward to our local and wider communities having a genuine input into the details of that design."
The City Council's Local Plan is now being finalised following the latest round of public consultation. In response to comments from the consultation these new regeneration plans look to achieve a happier, healthier, and greener city; key elements from the Imagine 2040 City Vision.
As the UK hosts the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 (31 October - 12 November), bringing together world leaders to commit to urgent global climate action, Portsmouth is looking at how it can play its part locally. Find out how you can join the Portsmouth climate change discussion during COP26 at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/cop26