Green Light for "Deal of Two Cities"18th March 2013
Southampton and Portsmouth have been given the green light for their £1.5bn City Deal, which would bring thousands of new jobs and homes to the Solent area.
On Monday 18 February, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the proposed package had passed its crucial first hurdle.
Southampton and Portsmouth city councils, backed by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other key partners, will now negotiate with the government on the details of the package.
The cities will benefit from a special fast-track process, with a goal of having the deal signed off by July.
Southampton and Portsmouth are the only two cities in the country to put in a joint bid under the City Deals scheme, which gives an area devolved powers and freedoms.
By cutting through central government red tape, a City Deal can greatly increase investor confidence. A successful deal would involve 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.
Cllr Richard Williams, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: “This is the news we have been waiting to hear. This represents a genuine opportunity to attract substantial and much-needed investment to our cities and to the region – creating new jobs, new homes and new opportunities.
"Southampton has great potential for substantial and sustainable growth and we can now work towards unlocking that potential. Both Southampton and Portsmouth have strong visions for the future. In Southampton we have a Master Plan that will inform the transformation of the city in the years to come. We have a commitment to raising educational attainment, to investing in our housing stock, regenerating our estates and for getting the best possible deal for residents and businesses in the city.
"In the current climate it is right that the government should be working closely with us to help unlock the growth potential for our cities. Both myself and Cllr Vernon-Jackson have been lobbying for a joint City Deal for some time. It is essential we continue to work together, because there are issues our cities have in common and because it will give us the best chance of success."
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: "We welcome this news, which means more investment for jobs in southern Hampshire and freedom from government interference.
"Our bid was so good that we not only got through to the next round but are being fast-tracked."
Doug Morrison, chairman of the Solent LEP, said: "I am delighted with this positive news about the Portsmouth and Southampton City Deal. This is excellent news for businesses across the Solent area. It will give confidence to prospective investors and hopefully lead to faster and more streamlined decision-making by government departments."
The proposed City Deal, which has huge support from the private sector, is focused on the expansion of a globally-competitive maritime economy in the Solent area. It seeks to maximise the potential of the area's internationally-recognised maritime businesses, unlocking investment from companies linked to the port in Southampton and the defence sector in Portsmouth.
If a City Deal is approved, Southampton would benefit from
- Expanding Southampton port
- Redevelopment of Royal Pier, creating around 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
It is believed that the proposed City Deal will benefit from the existence of strong local networks such as the LEP and PUSH - the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.
News courtesy of www.investinsouthampton.co.uk
Southampton River Itchen - from the sky