'Deal of two cities' hailed as historic boost to Solent economy12th November 2013
Portsmouth and Southampton are today celebrating a historic 'deal of two cities' that will bring thousands of jobs to their area and pump millions of pounds into the local economy.
The cities' joint City Deal with the government, signed this morning, gives them special powers and access to new funds. This means they can develop crucial sites, provide training and boost local companies.
City Deals have been signed by many cities around the country, but Portsmouth and Southampton are the only ones to have made a joint deal.
The deal was signed at a ceremony at Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower by Minister for Cities Greg Clark, Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Southampton City Council Cllr Simon Letts, Leader of Hampshire County Council Cllr Roy Perry, and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership director Gary Jeffries.
The deal is set to bring millions in public and private sector investment into the Solent area, creating more than 17,000 jobs. It is particularly aimed at the area's maritime, marine and advanced manufacturing sectors.
It will also:
- help 1,000 long-term unemployed people get back to work
- support workers recently made redundant
- help equip workers with the skills employers need
- help tackle youth unemployment
- support small and medium-sized businesses, as the area is more dependent on large employers than many other parts of the UK
- Part of the deal is that two major development sites will be 'unlocked' - at Tipner/Horsea Island in Portsmouth, and at Watermark West Quay in Southampton.
- Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: "This deal is a historic one. It is about the economic future of people in Portsmouth, Southampton, and the whole of the Solent area.
"We had to come up with a strong plan that the government felt was viable, and in return we have been given the ability to cut through red tape.
"This deal has been in development for almost a year and is about the medium-term future. It is not a here-and-now response to the end of shipbuilding in the city, although it does contain some help for recently-redundant workers. The shipbuilding decision is a separate issue that we are challenging the government on. If we can't reverse the decision, then we need a proper package of immediate help to lessen that blow."
Cllr Letts said: “This City Deal brings together key partners across councils, business and education, to create a scheme that truly works on a local level for Southampton, Portsmouth and the wider Solent area; to support our residents and businesses, and ultimately the future of our local economy.
“It will enable us to unlock the development potential of a key City Centre Master Plan project site, as well as giving us the opportunity to support our residents; offering them the right training for the right jobs, which in turn supports local businesses to be better equipped and more efficient to meet their future aspirations, and bring greater economic benefit to the Solent area.”
Mr Jeffries said: "The City Deal is not only a fantastic economic opportunity but a historic moment of co-operation between these two great cities for the benefit of the entire Solent area. It represents a genuine landmark and means we can now really capitalise on the huge growth potential of the Solent.
"The region has clearly endured some economic shocks of late and while the City Deal is an important development, it is in no way intended to be mitigation for the job losses stemming from BAE's decision to cease shipbuilding in Portsmouth. We are committed to working to secure further support for all those individuals and businesses affected, entirely independent from the City Deal package, and we hope to be making announcements on these new funds in due course."
Making land at Tipner and Horsea Island in Portsmouth available for development will eventually provide 2,370 new homes and more than 3,700 permanent jobs.
Portsmouth City Council has already invested £24m in infrastructure in the Tipner/Horsea Island area to support current and future development. This includes the building of a new motorway junction, which provides access between the motorway and Tipner East, Tipner West and a Ministry of Defence firing range. This work will be completed in March 2014. Housebuilding will also begin at Tipner East in 2014/15.
Parts of the Tipner/Horsea Island area currently cannot be developed because of obstacles such as multiple land ownership, land that needs cleaning up, or a lack of infrastructure. The City Deal will transfer land from the Ministry of Defence to Portsmouth City Council and enable roads and other infrastructure to be built.
Watermark West Quay
A critical industry for Southampton’s maritime sector is the growing international cruise industry, with more than 400 ships expected to dock in Southampton in 2013. This will provide approximately £1bn to the local economy; a 200% increase in passenger numbers in the last 10 years, with further growth expected. This provides a significant opportunity to improve the attractiveness of the city to visitors, which can be found in the stalled 49,000 square metre Watermark West Quay development.
This £97m mixed-use scheme will be delivered in two phases. The first phase comprises a landmark cinema building, up to 15 restaurants, additional retail space and newly-created public space in front of the city’s historic walls – creating 500 new permanent jobs. The second phase has the potential to include a residential tower, a hotel, flexible office space, restaurants and additional public space.
city deal signed