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South coast neighbours join forces in ‘a deal of two cities’Last updated: 15 January 2013 14:16
Southampton and Portsmouth have joined forces to bid for a £1.5bn package that would bring thousands of new jobs and homes to the whole Solent area.
They are the only two cities in the country to put in a joint bid under the government’s City Deals scheme, which gives an area devolved powers and freedoms.
By cutting through central government red tape, ministers hope to greatly increase investor confidence in the UK. A successful City Deal will see millions invested in development sites and infrastructure, and more local control over the running of national agencies and assets, such as local motorways and railways.
Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council today submitted a formal expression of interest in a City Deal to the government.
It has huge support from the private sector, and is focused on the expansion of a globally-competitive maritime economy in the Solent area.
No other area in the country offers a comparable cluster of internationally-recognised maritime businesses, and unlocking these unrivalled levels of private sector investment from companies linked to the port in Southampton and the defence sector in Portsmouth will be essential as ministers consider which City Deals to progress in the coming months.
If a City Deal is approved, Southampton would benefit from:
• expanding Southampton port, creating 4,000 new jobs
• redevelopment of Royal Pier, creating over 6,000 new jobs
• city centre development to fast track the council’s and partners’ master plan vision for regeneration and economic development
• investment in the Itchen riverside to create new homes, retail and business opportunities
Portsmouth would benefit from:
• the transformation of the naval base to meet increased demand for servicing ships – unlocking investment, safeguarding current jobs and creating new jobs
• massive investment in the development of Tipner, with about 1,600 jobs
• help in creating the new Northern Quarter shopping, housing and leisure development in the city centre, with 2,000 new jobs
The Solent area as a whole would benefit from:
• greater negotiating powers with major public sector landowners, helping to unlock key development sites
• a boost to skills in the area, linking training directly to what local businesses need
• greater influence with national bodies that run key assets, like the Highways Agency (motorways and trunk roads) and the Environment Agency (flood defences)
• the ability to use reserves held by councils, backed by financial guarantees from central government
• pooling various sources of funding for growth into a single pot
The Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: “We may be friendly rivals historically, but we’re delighted to be working together for mutual benefit, and for the benefit of the entire Solent area. We're also pleased to be working so closely with the private sector – this is essential in the current economic conditions and for the future.
“Our two cities have bold and well thought-out plans for regeneration. We know the key sites where jobs and homes will be created, but we need to unlock them and unlock investment.
“A City Deal would give us powers to cut through red tape and get more control over what happens in our area."
The Leader of Southampton City Council, Cllr Richard Williams, said: "Both cities are committed to working together for the common benefit, especially improving employment and skills development.
“In the current climate, with the recent announcement regarding Ford in Southampton, it’s right that we work closely with the government to realise the economic potential of the area.”
As well as the two councils, the bid involves key partners including:
• Solent Local Enterprise Partnership – the business-led body that works to bring economic growth to the area
• Hampshire County Council
• District and borough councils in south Hampshire
• Associated British Ports, who own and run Southampton docks
• Centros – the developers of the Northern Quarter in Portsmouth
• Tipner Regeneration Company
• developers Morgan Sindall and Hammerson, who have major development plans in Southampton
Solent LEP chief executive Anne-Marie Mountifield said: “The maritime industry is vitally important to the Solent economy and a real asset to the UK as a whole, providing employment for over 40,000 people in the Solent area.
“By delivering growth in the sector through the City Deal process, we will ensure the Solent remains at the heart of the UK maritime industry, with an ideally placed waterway to access international markets, an enterprise zone and a strong maritime industrial base which supports over 3,000 businesses.”
If the bid progresses to the next stage, negotiations with government on the details of a deal could start this spring, with the goal being a deal in place at the end of the year.
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