PLANS for a new business park which could bring more than 1,700 jobs have suffered a setback after the government turned down an £8m link road.
Ministers rejected the bid which was to fund a road connecting the planned Dunsbury Hill Science and Business Park in Leigh Park to the A3M.
The decision was made despite a promise it would help bring investment of more than £90m into south Hampshire.
Sean Woodward, leader of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which applied for the grant, admitted the project can’t go ahead without the road.
But he said he was not surprised by the government’s decision.
He said: ‘There were people who were very hopeful about this, but I have to confess not many people at Solent LEP thought we’d get the money from the government this time.
‘We expected the majority of the cash handed out this time would go to the north of England and that’s how it’s turned out.’
Dunsbury Hill is owned by Portsmouth City Council, but the 250-acre site is within Havant Borough Council’s boundary.
The scheme is expected to be delivered in two phases, and would create a space for small and medium sized businesses. Its first phase was to include 255,000sq ft of offices, a 40,000sq ft enterprise centre and a hotel with conference facilities.
It’s hoped the £102m scheme will be finished by 2014 and create 1,725 jobs over its life.
But the Regional Growth Fund, which had £450m to share between schemes designed to bring economic benefit to their areas, chose just 50 of more than 500 applications.
The LEP, which is made up of politicians and business people, had applied for £26m, with the rest of the cash to be used to improve road links in Southampton.
But despite the government’s refusal, Mr Woodward, who is also leader of Fareham Borough Council, said the link road project could get funding from other sources.
He said: ‘The park needs two things, planning permission and the road. Without either, it can’t go ahead.
‘We’re in the process of getting planning permission, so the application for cash for the road was to make sure funding was in place to start when we get permission.
‘It’s a setback not to have got it, but we have planned this since before the Growth Fund was set up, and we will make sure we get the cash we need for the road. We can apply in the fund’s second stage, or aim for private investment.
‘This won’t stand in the way of the development.’