Up to £25 million has been earmarked for the Solent Enterprise Zone, which aims to become a hub for advanced marine engineering (as well as aerospace and aviation), generating 1,200 jobs in South Hampshire on the UK’s south coast, writes IBI Magazine.
The investment plans were revealed yesterday by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, who visited Solent Enterprise Zone based company Marine Concepts to meet with partners involved in the delivery of the project. Marine Concepts are involved in the specialist construction of plugs and moulds for the marine industry.
It is anticipated that more than £15m will be used to unlock 21.6 acres of land for the development of new commercial space and up to 90 new homes. The proposed investment would also support the development of 25,000sq ft of new advanced manufacturing business space beside the airfield.
The Zone will have its own marine slipway and by 2026 it is estimated that 3,500 jobs will have been created, turning the area into a destination of choice for businesses within the marine, aerospace and aviation sectors.
The proposed investment is expected to come from a number of bodies, including £8m from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growing Places Fund, £4.1m from Hampshire County Council and £1.5m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.
In addition, the Secretary of State also announced proposals to invest £3m from the Growing Places Fund in Fareham College’s proposals for a new advanced skills training centre on the site. If a £12m investment package is secured to deliver the proposed centre, it would provide specialist training for the advanced manufacturing sector, up-skilling employees of businesses on the site and securing the future of advanced manufacturing skills across the Solent.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This over £25m boost for the Solent Enterprise Zone will unlock its huge potential to deliver growth, homes and jobs and make a real difference to Gosport. It is local business and commerce that creates the growth and jobs this country needs and it’s this government’s job to foster the conditions for those businesses to thrive.
“That is why through the government’s Growing Places Fund and the setting up of Enterprise Zones, we have empowered local enterprise partnerships to drive forward their own local economic development.”
Gary Jeffries, director of Solent LEP leading on the Solent Enterprise Zone, said: “We are seeking to commit a significant investment from the Solent Growing Places Fund which will bring us a step closer to our goal of creating 3,500 jobs at the Solent Enterprise Zone by 2026. Today’s announcement also paves the way for the launch of our £2.9m Regional Growth Fund expansion programme for SMEs on the zone, which we hope to launch shortly. We now look forward to working with companies like Marine Concepts to drive growth at the Zone.”
Following confirmation on final details later this week, work to create the new homes and commercial space is expected to begin immediately with designs drawn up for the new proposed development. Construction work would be expected to start in early 2013.