FAREHAM and Gosport are in line for a jobs boom as the former HMS Daedalus site becomes the first Enterprise Zone in the south.
The site was today set to be awarded the government rating by prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne.
A government source told The News that Daedalus – recently earmarked for marine, aviation and aerospace use in the Local Plan – is in the latest wave of sites nationwide to achieve the rating.
The site will benefit from business rate discounts, simplified planning rules and investment in the site’s infrastructure, which is aimed at encouraging businesses in and bringing thousands of jobs to the area.
Solent Local Enterprise Partnership – which works to secure a more profitable future for the area – welcomed the move.
Sean Woodward, who helped form the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and is also Fareham Borough Council leader, said: ‘There are some significant financial breaks for businesses that move on to the site that means there is the potential for a full rebate of business rates for five years while they get established up to the value of about £250,000 a year.
‘The other financial bonus is that the growth in business generated on the site will be able to be held locally. That growth will be used to invest in the infrastructure for the site.’
He added: ‘You name somewhere else that’s got an airport access to the site, free business rates, 25 years of business rate growth invested in the site – you would be hard pushed to find a site like that in England.’
Today’s news brings fresh hope of an increase in job opportunities for local people – currently there are 0.4 jobs per person in Gosport and half of the population travels outside the town to work.
Last night Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘It will be excellent news for the entire region.
‘Everyone in the area has worked so hard for this. There are just 0.4 jobs per person in Gosport, with a huge reliance on public sector employment, and increasing jobs will benefit everyone, not least because it means fewer people will have to commute on the heavily-congested A32.’
Gosport Borough Council leader, Councillor Mark Hook, said: ‘We are pleased the government recognises the massive opportunity there is on the Daedalus site. We recognise the need to create jobs on the peninsula and we are delighted the government has sat up and taken notice. This is just the beginning.’
Gary Jeffries, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership board director, said: ‘It’s fantastic news for the Solent region and a great early win for the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.’