For those who aren’t aware, South Parade Pier is Grade II listed building which means Portsmouth City Council has legal powers to order repairs, however they have declined to use them. The pier has had no major repairs since new owners bought it in 2010 and is now in a state of progressive collapse and boarded up by Portsmouth City Council due to it being unsafe. New operators have claimed since February that they own the pier but have not actually purchased it, according to latest information from the Land Registry.
South Parade Trust have organised more than 12,000 people have now signed a petition for listed building repairs to be ordered at the pier. The Trust announced the petition milestone this week after a phenomenal weekend of canvassing at the Victorious Festival. They collected nearly four signatures a minute throughout the entire weekend.
South Parade Trust are a community group calling for full, immediate, end-to-end repairs at the pier to allow the restoration of safe public access to the whole pier. Chairman Leon Reis explains “Before Victorious, nearly 8,000 people had signed our petition – a great success in its own right. But today the total is 12,195,” he said.
“It is important to note that 12,195 signatures is equivalent to more than 8% of the entire 147,000 Portsmouth electorate registered with the council – enough to swing the entire council elections next May if people voted for candidates supporting full, end-to-end repairs to the pier.
“The council continues to spend £3,000 of ratepayers’ money every week on security at the pier but does not try to recover it from the owners of the pier, nor does it attempt to enforce either of the two court orders against the owners that PCC spent ratepayers’ money on going to court to win.
“South Parade Trust only need 1,000 signatures to automatically generate a delegation to the full council and a debate on this issue, and we will continue to collect signatures until we are ready to present the petition to the council. One question the council has still to answer is: how many signatures from local people do we need before they will start to listen to what the people of this city want?”
If you have not signed the petition then you still can online via www.SouthParadeTrust.org/petition. Please take the time to sign it and share with friends.
You can follow the South Parade Trust on Facebook and Twitter @PeoplesPier1.
Photo by Luke O’Brien
Some fantastic news has been announced today by Portsmouth City Council that the ARTches project to turn the Hotwalls arches in Old Portsmouth into a collection of artist studios and exhibition space has received key funding totalling £1.75 million from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. As we have previously covered in the last few years (you can read our previous articles, dating back to 2010, and opinion on the project HERE) the ARTches project will revitalise an area that despite being one of the highest footfalls in the city with locals and visitors throughout the year has been chronically underused and for many years closed off. The Strong Island Exhibition at the Round Tower in 2011 with many thousands of visitors in just two weeks showed that this area has fantastic potential.
Many cities and town across the south and the UK have projects and areas that actively aim to support and develop creativity in their local area by providing low cost artist studios, acting as stepping stones in the career progress of the creative industries including art, craft, jewellery, etc. Local examples include Making Space in Leigh Park, The Arches in Southampton and, The Sorting Office in Eastleigh. These projects provide a sustainable model of supporting artists with studio facilities, exhibition space, business and marketing support and more. Sadly despite Portsmouth’s active and fast growing creative sector we do not have such a local resource to benefit not just local artists, crafters, photographers, jewellers and more but also bringing in income in to the local economy. The creative industries are the fastest growing sector in the UK economy, generating £8 million an hour that generates direct and indirect employment for many, the ARTches project will be a key driver in developing this sector in Portsmouth in the future, with PCC estimating over 23 jobs to be created as a result of the funding and 82 positions indirectly.
The project’s planning permission decision previously proved to be controversial with petitions for and against the development but with the active support of English Heritage permission was granted and with this new funding plus £100,000 from PCC and the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) contribution of £40,000 the ARTches project is quickly becoming a reality. We’re looking forward to seeing more news on the project soon, including more details on the business plan, the artists to be engaged with for studio space, etc.
“Time and tide wait for no man” is a 13th century proverb that goes back even further in ancient English and the sentiment remains the same almost 1000 year later in the case of Portsmouth & Southsea’s South Parade Pier: the laws of the land say it can’t be demolished but these laws mean nothing to the rain, the wind and the sea. After years of seemingly wilful neglect by the current owners, a mixture of handwashing and legal nonchalance by Portsmouth City Council, elusive, hokey-cokey ‘new’ owners and a winter of the worst storms in memory the treasured landmark at one of Portsmouth & Southsea seaside’s busiest points may well not be structurally able to survive another bad winter.
South Parade Trust have created a petition calling on Portsmouth City Council to act and force the owners of South Parade Pier to “…carry out urgent, end-to-end repairs to prevent further ongoing structural collapse, using Section 48 of The Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as recommended by English Heritage”. You can re-open a toilet and fill a pothole but once the pier is gone…it is gone forever. If the small Suffolk seaside town of Southwold can have a vibrant pier, so can we. If Hastings can restore a pier to its previous splendour (from burnt out ruins), then so can we. If Penarth can have a community pier with resources and facilities for locals and tourists, then so can we. No more excuses, time to act.
The petition has only been online a matter of days and already has almost 3000 signatures at the time of writing, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot get to 10,000 or even 100,000 seeing the number of people who live, work & visit the city of Portsmouth and Southsea. It takes 10 seconds to sign and another 10 seconds to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Forgetting the heritage, forgetting a restored pier being a community asset, forgetting the pier being a tourist attraction…culturally & artistically the pier is one of the most photographed locations in the city. Photos taken on mobile phones all the way to remote drones, photos taken at all times of the day and year from land and sea…all of these photos shared online to what must be millions of people. Imagine that lost to a storm surge and shoulder shrugging owners and PCC…
Below are just three photos I’ve taken of the pier of literally hundreds in the last few years, I imagine just locally there must be thousands and thousands of photos by local people, even more by visitors to the city. People are inspired to take photographs by special places and locations, lets try and keep one of ours and to bring it back to life.
Portsmouth City Museum are holding a Tricorn study day on the 21st June that includes many different talks about the structure & its design (including one by the architect Owen Luder) plus talks on the possible use of the space left behind from the demolition of the building in 2004. The line up for the day is as follows:
09:50 – Introductions
10:00 – Celia Clark: Brutalism as a style – the fate of Brutalist buildings around the world
10:55 – Coffee break
11:10 – Roger Tyrrell & Nicola Crowson, University of Portsmouth: ‘The Iconic’ – a comparative analysis of the Tricorn and the Sydney Opera House
12.05 – Owen Luder: The Tricorn – the architect’s perspective
13:00 – Lunch in the Activities Room (ground floor, east end)
13:45 – Ron Tate: The Tricorn – a planner’s perspective
14:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint I
15:25 – Tea break
15:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint II
16:25 – End
A place at the study day, which includes a buffet lunch, tea and coffee, costs only £20 with Portsmouth Leisure Card Holders & students at only £12. To book a place phone 023 9283 4737 and pay by credit or debit card.
Photo by Jon King
Currently one of the most contentious planning proposals in the city is the proposed new home for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup headquarters, located on The Camber in Old Portsmouth. The story has been developing quickly over recent weeks and we have heard people’s opinions on both sides through messages on our Facebook and with emails. I think there is no doubt that having the city home to one of the best sailing teams in the World would be a huge boost to the city on many levels, be that employment, new skills and prestige. Personally I think the plans for the building are striking too, a new landmark for Portsmouth and also a symbol of the city’s development for every single passenger of every continental and IOW ferry that leaves and arrives in the harbour.
Concerning the design, which will fill much of the current Camber carpark, it is safe to say that this modern structure wrapped in curved ‘sails’ caught in a strong wind will cause controversy due to the close proximity of the historic Point and the streets of the Old Portsmouth district. Personally, I think architecture in these situations can work in two ways, either feel in keeping with the existing period design or be the opposite, a meeting of diametrically opposed styles that work together, combining the heritage of the city with dynamic contemporary architectural design. This has worked in numerous significant developments in recent years (even intimately such as the Great Court at the British Museum)…in a way this bringing together of the two styles can be representative of a city wishing to celebrate its heritage yet strike new ground with a view to the future too. Despite there still being questions regarding issues such as public access to the very popular Bridge Tavern (maybe the idea of the return of the bridge over the water isn’t a joke after all?) and the problem of parking in an area designed long before the car, the change of use from an area once piled high with power station coal could help power the city in new ways.
It seems like opinion is once again polarised from this development, in recent days councillors of all political persuasions have come out in support of the proposal plus a planning committee has also shown support yet many local residents are raising concern about possible problems with the proposal. Strangely pre-development work has already broken ground on the site too with businesses moving location to make way for the new building. A little worrying considering no formal approval has been given, but if the local businesses are happy about the changes, maybe that is a move in the right direction if a little presumptive. For me…it was important to see what opinion the Portsmouth Society might have on the issue and last week saw them also show support too. With that support in place and with Ben Ainslie’s apparent desire to choose Portsmouth over two sites in Southampton it looks very positive.
There is a consultation meeting this evening at 7.30pm at Cathedral House (next to Portsmouth Cathedral), after the first was postponed due to too many people arriving for the space available. At the meeting Sir Ben Ainslie will be making a presentation of the proposal in person and people are encouraged to attend to both raise any concerns but also to show local support for the plans. The final planning consent decision is very quickly approaching and the building is planned to start very soon so we could be seeing the very best racing yachts in Portsmouth Harbour and out on The Solent in the very near future.
One real concern regarding this development is if it will have any detrimental impact on the ARTches project, I would really hope that this local area is able to take both developments on and the council will ensure that this doesn’t become a situation where they only offer one out of the two large scale changes to the Old Portsmouth area to appease residents.
There is a petition showing support for the proposal, you can find out about it HERE.
If you have visited the Portsmouth City Museum’s Tricorn exhibition (and if you haven’t you should do quick as it ends at the end of this month) you would have seen an incredible virtual flythrough of the building, revealing its different areas, shops and more…giving a new whole new perspective of the structure’s design. The virtual flythrough by Sam Brooks (who also is part of the Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series) is a detailed tour and based on the original architectural drawings by Owen Luder Architects.
Sam has produced a large series of Tricorn flythroughs with the one below capturing the whole structure but if you visit the Leftfield Motive YouTube channel you’ll find detailed flythroughs focusing on particular areas like the department store, the residential flats and views of each of the individual levels. I highly recommend you take a few minutes and re-discover this Portsmouth architectural icon in a fascinating new way.
At the time of my last post on the subject, the pier was due to be rescued by a mystery consortium who’s ambitions were to restore the iconic landmark to its former glory. So where are we now? As time keeps marching on, the pier continues to slowly crumble into the sea and the potential new owners continue to shroud their identity in secrecy without any real sign of the purchase going ahead. During this time, the council have resumed their legal action against current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, by ordering the construction of a protective perimeter wall rather than opting for the repairs it badly needs. So where does this leave us? We have two penniless owners who want to wash their hands of the structure, a shadowy group who quite clearly have nothing in their coffers, an eyesore of a wall that will cost money to put up and subsequently tear down, and a local council who seem happy enough to sit down and watch this farcical situation go from bad to worse.
We should remind ourselves that Portsmouth is not the only coastal city who have battled to save their pier. Let us take Hastings as an example. Hastings Council rightly issued a compulsory purchase order and placed their pier firmly in the hands of the Hastings Pier Trust (the model for South Parade Trust). Whilst the financial risk are taken on by the trust, it leaves them free to apply for grants. Hastings Pier Trust received £11.4m from this process alone thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Take a second and drink that figure in. This type of back-to-back handover would not only best serve the people of Portsmouth, it will also save the pier from certain ruin and clear any of the water that has been muddied by the consortium. Should Portsmouth City Council choose not to go down this simple route, it will be tantamount to neglect.
Over the past week we have heard announcements in the local press that Bouygues Development are looking to seek permission to demolish the eyesore that is Brunel House, and replace it with an impressive tower which has been nicknamed ‘Our Shard’. In addition there have also been reports about the investment which will be going into South Parade Pier by the new owners, and the residential development of the old Portland Hotel building on Kent Road. With all this exciting development I am half expecting to hear that someone will finally turn the the Northern Quarter of Commercial Road into the New Westfields.
Putting all cynicism to one side however, these projects would be fantastic for the city. The regeneration of The Hard and Portsea area over the past few years has been a real success, and this would continue this time of regeneration for our city. In my opinion the building looks brilliant and would enhance the already impressive Portsmouth skyline.
Bouygues Development’s plans consist of a forty storey tower which will include student accommodation, 329 residential properties and one floor of retail space. The development would see the demolition of Brunel House, Victory Public House, ‘City Wide Taxi’s’ building and former Ambulance Station.
To find out more you can view the planning application yourself HERE.
We have all been waiting and hoping for some positive news about our beloved South Parade Pier. The consortium who have just taken over ownership of the pier, South Parade Pier Limited have announced their plan to develop the pier. The plans include a music venue, bars and restaurants however still maintaining traditional seaside pier attractions like the arcades and food kiosks.
A nice touch that excited me was the plan for a ferry service could also be set up to go between Gunwharf Quays.
With all of this in mind, I feel it is key to point out that we at Strong Island echo the thoughts of The South Parade Trust, who are a community organisation who were also looking to purchase the pier, they urge caution and want to see evidence of the investment required. If reports are to be believed the costs to restore the pier could reach between £3-5 million.
It’s still very early days and the owners will have to allow the full extent of the damage to be assessed before anyone can hope to see repairs begin. It may take a few years but let’s hope the future for one of Portsmouth’s oldest and most loved attractions is in good hands.
Photo by Catherine Taylor
Todays Portsmouth News has featured the new development for the land opposite the pier. Take a look and you can make up your own opinions.
Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete is a brand new exhibition commemorating 10 years since the demolition of this distinct and controversial building that between 1966 and 2004 was a fundamental part of the Portsmouth skyline. The exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum goes far beyond documenting the building from an architectural perspective, although for the first time many, many original drawings, plans and photographs are on display from the building’s architects, much of it for the first time ever. Where this exhibition explores beyond the groundbreaking and (for many) iconic Brutalist architectural design is documenting how it was experienced and used by the people of Portsmouth. The exhibition opened on the 15th and formally had its opening celebration to a capacity crowd on Saturday 22nd.
The exhibition on the ground floor of the museum is loosely arranged in to two areas, with the first section detailing the origins of the building from concept to design and build. As you enter this space the striking architectural plans on the wall are what first catch the eye. The lines and form of the concrete structure can almost take you back in time to the exciting and economically optimistic early 1960s, with the original and then cutting edge design still feeling strangely fresh even now. This is reinforced with the many original pamphlets, magazines and books that show the enthusiasm the project launched with. This part of the exhibition also establishes where the Tricorn sat within the Brutalist movement and also with some other buildings in the city such as Portsdown Park and Portsmouth Central Library, both of which are in the exhibition in the form of architect sketches and models.
The second section focuses on how the people of Portsmouth experienced the structure over the years it stood in the city centre. Part of this section is an incredible collection of posters and artwork from the nightclub but there is also related music, photos and even period clothing giving a sense of how the building was, for a time, a hub for the community. This section also looks at how the building was a creative inspiration for many, including artwork, skateboard decks and in particular, photography. It is in this section the Strong Island community photo panel is located, with over 100 photos capturing the structure in artistic angles and light. This area is also home to some striking work by Jon King and James Earle, both of who explored the building with their cameras throughout it’s demolition. Both areas also contain oral history, with interviews, opinions and memories on the Tricorn from both architect and members of the public. Also in both areas of the exhibition are feedback walls, which welcome comments from people visiting the exhibition. Despite the exhibition only being open for a week these are already full with amazing contributions.
On Saturday 22nd the exhibition was formally opened including attendance by VIPs such as Owen Luder, one of the original architects, plus many people associated with the Tricorn from right back to it’s design and construction through to its final demolition. The event included speeches by Owen Luder, Celia Clark and Councillor Lee Hunt, possibly the most interesting was the story of the Tricorn told by Owen Luder himself. It was fascinating to see how for him the aspirations for the building were in many ways dashed due to an economic turndown happening with an extended delay in securing contracts with key business tenants. Of particular note were his thoughts on how the space itself has been used “54 years on it is back to how it was when I first saw it in 1960, a carpark”.
The exhibition runs through to the 29th June.