Southsea Seafront Scheme

Seafront cycling – action needed now, now, now!

Just like the buses, there are no plans for ages, and then two come along at once.

Both the Southsea Coastal Scheme, and a new Seafront Strategy are currently out for consultation. Both require the immediate attention of cyclists.

These two documents offer a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity to improve our seafront and make it easier and safer for people walking and cycling to enjoy it for decades to come. Full details of both documents and how to respond are below, but in brief:

  • The first consultation is for the Southsea Coastal Scheme – that means the new flood defences. This consultation is effectively driving a planning application for the new landscaping along the length of Southsea seafront. The sea defences will define the space in which cycle provision has to exist, so it’s important we respond. The document does present road layouts which have been used for planning and design purposes – we understand that these layouts are not set in stone but they could present a ‘default’ so please consider how you think they work and feed back your comments.
  • The second is the seafront masterplan, which will set out how the Council plans to use all that new space. This document is of vital importance for cyclists, pedestrians, children and families and anyone who wishes to enjoy a clean, safe seafront.

This article sets out the difference between the two plans and how you can contribute your views. It’s vital that as many cyclists as possible make themselves heard.

Southsea Coastal Scheme

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council, through the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP)

Who is that then? The ESCP is a partnership of Local Authorities along the Eastern Solent area (including Portsmouth) and is made up of a small team of specialist coastal officers and engineers. Their aim is to protect us from coastal flooding. Quite sensible given the future projections for flooding of our island city.

What is the scheme? The scheme covers flood defences for Southsea Seafront. The ESCP has Central Government funding to deliver the defences. The project will change the look and operation of the seafront from Long Curtain Moat to Canoe Lake and the Rose Gardens.

What stage is the scheme at? This is the pre-planning consultation. There have already been two previous consultations at different stages over the last few years to gather views and priorities and preferences on a number of different options. The ESCP has sifted through all this feedback and now has one proposed scheme. They are getting final feedback to make tweaks before submitting a formal Planning Application to Portsmouth City Council.

Why is it relevant to cycling? Well….

Back in the late 2000s a segregated cycle lane was installed at the Eastney end of the seafront. This was contrary to the Council’s own consultation which showed overwhelming support for permitting cycling on the promenade. Everyone agrees that this scheme was a compromise.

The cycle lane was also meant to extend much further west to protect people riding bikes from cars as drivers reverse out of parking spaces to join the carriageway. But it didn’t happen.

PCF have pushed and pushed for improvements in this area and have always been told by the Council to hold tight and wait for the Coastal Defences scheme; that would be the opportunity to make the changes everyone wanted to see.

And now it’s here, and we’re not overly happy with what is proposed. The scheme (which you can see here) is still, by all definitions, a compromise.

  • At Long Curtain Moat, it’s not clear if cycling will be permitted in pedestrian areas
  • There are no improvements on Pier Road
  • There is no cycling provision at all in front of Southsea Common
  • Cycling could be allowed on the promenade by Southsea Castle and the Pyramids, although  it’s outside of the scope of the scheme to change the necessary by-laws to permit this so this won’t happen automatically
  • Cycling is shown as back on the road by South Parade Pier and Canoe Lake on the northern side, away from the sea
    There are no proposals to change the existing seafront cycle lane at the Eastney end
  • We should add that the document does not make any concrete statements on cycling at all, instead terms like “could” and “possibility” are used throughout which doesn’t give us a clear position on the proposals.

Whilst we appreciate the amount of work has gone into these proposals, it still feels very woolly. The ESCP’s consultations have shown clear support for improving walking and cycling, with respondents ranking those priorities much higher than providing for car parking – whilst we are pleased to see that, the plans do not reflect this for example, whilst there is no cycle provision on Pier Road or by the Common, there is plenty of car parking.

Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.
Public responses from 2014 show pedestrian and cycle access should be the top priorities.

So, what’s next? We (PCF, and you individually) must respond to this consultation and, crucially, contact your local councillor to tell them your view. The deadline is FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY. We’ll be using our Facebook Group to ask PCF members for their views over the next week before forming a full PCF response for our 400+ members, but the more councillors hear from cyclists, the more likely we’ll see improvements. So please send your own response too – you can find out who your councillor is here. Here are some points you might like to include:

  • Clarity on what the proposals will actually do for cycling provision
  • Providing a continuous, coherent and safe cycle route that could be used by families with young children
  • Making any on-road provision safe by keeping cycling away from car doors and reversing drivers
  • Keeping traffic speeds low

Full information about the scheme is online at southseacoastalscheme.org.uk. You can email your response to [email protected] and [email protected].

There is also an online survey which you can complete here, although that doesn’t capture much information so we strongly recommend you also email your comments.

Southsea Masterplan Review

Who’s behind it? Portsmouth City Council

What is it? It’s a review of the existing Seafront Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which is a document to help developers understand what kind of development would be supported along the seafront. Whilst the Coastal Defence Scheme will only cover the defences themselves, this document covers everything else. The details of the scheme can be found here.

Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map
Seafront Masterplan: Proposed Walking and Cycling Map

What stage is it at? It’s out for consultation until March 22nd. As before, it will help developers know what we want to see in this area in the future and will help the Council to secure financial contributions from developers towards things like cycling provision.

Why is it relevant to cycling? This document sets out how the seafront will be used and appears  to be very positive. It is very important that the Council receives support to prioritise public space and road layouts first for pedestrians, then cyclists, then public transport and finally for private cars.

Call to action

This document could set out how the seafront will be used for decades so it’s essential Portsmouth gets it right. Again, PCF will generate a response on behalf of our members but it’s really important that as many of you as possible respond individually. You can respond by completing PCC’s online survey here. This may limit what you can say so we recommend you also follow up by contacting your councillor.