RESIDENTS have welcomed plans for thousands of new jobs at the former HMS Daedalus – but warn traffic problems are the last stumbling block.
The Lee-on-the-Solent airfield was one of 11 new enterprise zones announced by the government, as reported yesterday.
Firms will be encouraged to set up there with cheaper business rates and relaxed planning rules.
But people living near the site hope big business will take on local workers and fix the town’s traffic problems.
Jock Thompson, from the Lee-on-the-Solent Residents’ Association, said: ‘People have been waiting for a long time to see something happening at Daedalus.
‘So far nothing has actually come out of it although one or two developments over the last year have given hope and this is another positive step.
‘They have now got to look at ways of making road infrastructure better. There is a bit of a chicken and egg situation going on. If business moves here, then hopefully local people will get jobs and the traffic problems will ease up.
‘But we need to attract the businesses here first and road infrastructure is a problem.’
There are currently just under 0.5 jobs per person in Gosport. Traffic chaos on the peninsula stems from half of the town’s workforce being forced to commute to find work. Mr Thompson also urged the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to seize the opportunity to build its planned new operations centre at Daedalus.
He added: ‘There is strong community support for the centre to be based in Daedalus. It is important for the future of the site to have this national organisation where it belongs – in the heart of our community. Locating this facility at HMS Daedalus would benefit both the restructured MCA and the people here in Lee.’
The enterprise zone bid was led by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership. A plan has already earmarked the site for aviation, maritime and aerospace use.