Council invites offers for redeveloping bus station

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT BOROUGH COUNCIL has invited developers together in the hope of securing offers to purchase the town’s current bus station site.

The move comes after details were finalised to deliver a proposed new transport interchange in 2023 under the local plans with investment from the UK Government’s Transforming Cities Fund.

The bus station has been operating since the 1970s and serves hundreds of commuters each day, with links to Southampton, Fareham, and Portsmouth via road and ferry. The site also houses the town’s Tourist Information Centre and a number of small businesses, as well as shelter for bikes during working hours.

But in recent years the site has appeared ‘aged’ and ‘knackered’ in comparison to other transport hubs such as the redeveloped ‘Hard’ building in Gunwharf. Many users were pleased at the news that Gosport Bus Station was to be demolished and replaced by a modern building. A consultation earlier this summer involved residents chosing between four designs for the proposed new layout, with development workk set to start next summer.

Councillors now hope to create an iconic gateway to Gosport that also respects and celebrates the history, heritage, and maritime culture of the area. This is particularly important for them as they aim to revitalise the town after a decade of closures and stagnation in the shopping centre, with the area continuing to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns that saw many businesses shut and local unemployment rise.

Gosport Borough Council Leader Graham Burgess is hoping that developers come up with an ‘iconic’ proposal that could see shops and restaurants on the waterfront, which in turn would promote employment and business growth in the town.

In an interview with the Portsmouth News, he said: “The old bus station is past its sell-by date. We have a new transport interchange and planning permission applications should be in very shortly. By inviting developers to purchase the site and begin shaping their ideas now, we will be in a strong position to begin redeveloping this area for the community once the new interchange opens.

“We’re hoping to start construction (of the interchange) early next year. Once that’s finished the buses will move to the new interchange and we can start demolishing that garbage site of a bus station. We will market the bus station site and go for building houses, shops, facilities and hopefully restaurants.

“It should hopefully be an iconic building because it’s a real prime site on the waterfront. There is a real opportunity to create a new gateway to the town with facilities and amenities that benefit residents and visitors.

Opposition Liberal Democrat leader Peter Chegwyn also agreed with the plans to redevelop Gosport Bus Station, expressing a similar hope for the existing site once the new transport hub has been opened. But he warned that a consultation with residents should be offered before any starts, stating that action needs to be taken and the time for talking was now over.

He said: “At long last, it looks like it might be happening because we’ve got the county council involved and we’ve got some government money. I want to see an attractive development that brings people into town with bistros, wine bars and restaurants as it’s got a lovely view over the harbour.

“It needs to be part of a wider plan to regenerate the high street, bring life back into our town centre. It’s time to get on and actually do something. The time for talking is over. We need to get on, agree to plans and we should consult the public because I think there is support for a development that opens up the waterfront.”

(Image: Stock Photo of Gosport Bus Station – Reproduced with permissions)