Published on Sunday, 5th November 2017


This week saw a round of consultation events over the new flood defences around Southsea and Old Portsmouth. I went to the one in Cosham and both the information presented and the questionnaire were useful. Across all locations, the total number of people that visited will have been around a thousand.


Following the recent East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, I need to perhaps explain why some of the alternative suggestions that have been put forward are unrealistic. 


• An underground car park. At the meeting, it was said that the council could remove all the parking from the roads in the Common and replace it with an underground car park. The thing is, underground spaces are enormously expensive, which is why there are hardly any underground car parks. A decade ago, the cost was estimated at £100,000 a space, so 500 spaces would cost £50m. On the other hand, as the parking would be relocated, there would be the same amount of income as before. You cannot borrow under those circumstances and £50m is £1000 per council tax bill. To people living near the seafront that might be worth it, but residents in Copnor and Fratton would be unlikely to agree.

• Moving the Pyramids. Demolishing and rebuilding the Pyramids would cost about £30m. Bearing in mind that the whole thing nearly closed in 2010 and the only thing that prevented that was that Sport England would have demanded the repayment of a £5m grant given to the Mountbatten Centre, it is perhaps clear that that is a great of deal of money. Not only that but council budgets have halved since then. Frankly we’ve done really well to keep the Pyramids open at all.


The flood defences are an opportunity not only to secure properties for the coming decades, but also to make the seafront an even more attractive place. Every attempt will be made to make the new defences both attractive and unobtrusive. Having a debate on this is healthy and useful, because as a city, we need to be able to answer questions like: is the gradual loss of the beach by the Naval War Memorial acceptable? It is things like that which constrain the design. 


Tags: Sea Defences