Portishead precinct project begins as council seeks to boost 'thriving' centre

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 March 2019

Somerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Somerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Archant

Work to improve Portishead's High Street and precinct is underway, just days after North Somerset Council said there was no start date for the project.

Somerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONSomerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

A much-needed revamp of the town centre began on Monday, with the council revealing close to £200,000 will be used to ‘make the place more presentable’.

Repaving of the footpaths in the High Street began this week, while upgrades to the precinct will take place from April to June.

EJ McGrath has been enlisted to carry out the work for £185,000, and the project is partly being funded by Section 106 money – cash developers pay to the local authority as part of their planning permission – from the Sainsbury’s development.

Last week the Times reported the council promised ‘significant improvements’ to the town centre, but the authority was unsure when the work would begin.

Portishead High Street.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONPortishead High Street. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

The project is several months behind schedule, with the council initially hoping it would be completed by last autumn – and difficulty agreeing quotes with contractors has been blamed for the delay.

David Pasley, councillor for Portishead East and executive member for finance, welcomed the start of the works.

He said: “I think it is work which is certainly due now we have the money to pay for it from Section 106 (agreements).

“It is going to improve the look of the High Street and the precinct. It is the gateway to the High Street.

Somerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONSomerset Hall and Precinct, Portishead. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

“We have had problems getting quotes because the Hinkley Point contracts have taken up a lot of the work of the skilled tradesman in the area, but I am pleased as we can use and employ local people. The contract has gone to a local company and local people are working on it.

“We are very fortunate we have got a very vibrant High Street. A lot of town centres are in demise but Portishead is thriving, and that is down to the traders.

“That is why people come to visit, so making the place more presentable is going to help.”

A council spokesman added: “The only impact on the road will be temporary narrow lanes to ensure safety of crews working on footpaths on High Street.

“There will be no closures, diversions or traffic lights, and the pedestrian crossing will remain open.

“We anticipate the works will be finished by mid-June.”

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