When we saw Portsmouth City Council’s announcement to create a new green space in the city centre, it made our hearts sing.
Coming on top of the recent news in the Chancellor’s budget statement that there are plans to create the UK’s longest urban park at the northern end of Portsea Island – this latest announcement, can only help make the city even more attractive to buyers and investors.
According to the council’s website, they are looking at a multi-functional, green space that 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.
Now called City Centre North the regeneration plans stretch from Charlotte Street to Hope Street to Commercial Road. While it is still early days, experts predict It could take 10 years for the new green space to become a reality.
Parks are important because:
- They can revitalise an area
- They bring positive economic benefits
- They create safer neighbourhoods
- They promote public health
- They are a space where children can learn about the natural world
- They provide a green link between communities and provide a breathing space
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.
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.
In a recent article in New Statesman magazine, parks were seen as an important component in the levelling up agenda. Parks and green spaces, previously considered “nice to have” but not essential, are now being promoted as an ingredient in any attempts to “build back better”.
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.
This also links with the council’s introduction of a clean air zone as part of it’s move to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
It really is exciting to see the environment being taken so seriously in Portsmouth and for green matters to be so high on the agenda.