TODAY a bold new vision can be revealed to restore one of Southampton’s most famous landmarks to its former glory.
Plans have been drawn up to reinstate the medieval Bargate to the city’s ancient walls.
If funding is won, people will be able to walk one and a half miles along the walls towards the waterfront for the first time in more than 200 years.
The idea is the latest to emerge out of a major regeneration scheme as part of a £3 billion City Centre Masterplan, which would see the city transformed over the next 25 years.
New shops The Bargate, dating back to 1180, became marooned after a redevelopment project in the 1930s saw old adjoining buildings replaced with new ones either side.
Now civic planners want to reconnect the Grade I listed Bargate by sweeping the pre-war buildings either side away and replacing it with new four- storey blocks comprising shops, offices and flats.
If the vision wins government development funding and support from the landlords of existing buildings, it would mean people could climb up and walk westward along the reinstated walls.
Another striking aspect would be the closure of the busy West Bargate to traffic.
This will be paved over, extending the pedestrianisation of the QE2 Mile up to the historic gateway, creating a public space with a modernist sculpture as a centrepiece.
The overall vision is to make Southampton a more integrated and pedestrian-friendly city, with traffic diverted around the city centre in a new ring road-style network.
Another major plan is to transform the Western Esplanade into a tree-lined, paved area with public seating.
Council heritage boss Warwick Payne said: “There are some hugely exciting proposals in the masterplan, especially around maximising the heritage landmarks of Southampton.
“One of the city’s iconic landmarks is of course the Bargate. When I was a child it was little more than a glorified traffic island.
“Over the years it’s been brought back into a more accessible piece of heritage and the masterplan could take it a step forward, so that it can once again become the gateway to our city, rather than an attractive piece of street furniture.”
The plans have been welcomed by heritage watchdog The Southampton Society.
Society acting chairman Arthur Jeffery said: “There is a lot of detail to iron out, but we are positive about it. It will enhance our heritage.
“The best bit will be the fact the Bargate will come back to its own.”
As reported in the Daily Echo, city chiefs want to downgrade the busy street in front of the Civic Centre from five lanes to two and replace the car park with a park.