Historic England has commissioned LDA Design to lead a team to prepare a visionary masterplan for Fort Cumberland, located on Eastney Point in the south-east corner of Portsea Island.
Fort Cumberland is one of the finest examples of 18th century, pentagonal-shaped bastion forts in England. The fort’s fascinating story tells of the dramatic changes in defensive warfare over 250 years, from its Georgian origins to WW2 and the late 20th century conflicts. It faces very different existential threats from climate change, including rising sea levels and the conservation challenges arising from ageing buildings and structures across two and a half centuries.
Fort Cumberland is a remarkable and unique place, a Scheduled Monument with above and below ground structures protected by various statutory controls, including Grade II and II* listings. The site and its setting are highly sensitive and vulnerable to planned or unplanned change. The visionary masterplan must balance strategic objectives under the headings of people, planet, and place.
Fort Cumberland’s enormous historical value and its potential have largely remained untapped and hidden from view behind its fortifications. It is home to Historic England’s world-class Centre for Archaeology and to research collections of international importance. It is in a remote location, yet within relatively easy reach of Portsmouth and Southsea, if improvements can be made to travel connections which could encourage people to walk, cycle or take the bus. There will also be opportunities for making Fort Cumberland an essential destination on long-distance leisure routes connecting to the ferry across to Hayling Island and making it part of the bigger leisure circuit around Portsea Island and Langstone Harbour.
The potential for improving educational and cultural links with the city and the University of Portsmouth is clear. There are opportunities for re-using and adapting existing structures for small-scale, complementary research and employment activity and visitor facilities. Securing long-term revenue will help to support vital conservation work.
Fort Cumberland is an important part of Portsea Island and Southsea’s extensive and unique coastal environment, providing real opportunities to support nature recovery and increase biodiversity.
With so much interest and careful balances to strike, LDA Design will embark upon a co-design programme involving a wide range of participants. The vision and masterplan will explore a range of options for further development. The commission is due to report in March 2024.
Fort Cumberland Project team
LDA Design: Project lead, masterplanning, urban design, town planning, landscape design
Pritchard Architecture: Conservation architecture
Buro Happold: Sustainable infrastructure and movement
BSG Ecology: Biodiversity
JANVS/VIDAR: Visitor experience and cultural heritage
Lambert Smith Hampton: Development and delivery strategy
Peter Gunning and Partners: Cost Advice