THE Ministry of Defence has published a prospectus calling on businesses to put forward proposals for how Portsmouth’s shipbuilding facilities could be used.
It comes after BAE Systems’ announcement in November last year that it would end shipbuilding at its facilities in the city.
As reported in The News, there has been interest from several companies who want to take over the site.
Now, the government has published details of the site for companies who want to lease it.
Sarah Stanton, one of the business owners involved in a bid to start the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Group, has welcomed the move.
She said: ‘It shows that the government is taking this seriously now.
‘A commitment was made about keeping shipbuilding in Portsmouth and this is a huge step in the right direction. It’s really positive.’
Once vacated by BAE, the 13-hectare site, which includes the ship hall, two docks, plate cutting facilities, workshops and administration offices, could have a commercial use.
But as it forms part of the naval base, there will be restrictions to ensure any occupation complies with operational military and security requirements.
The minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon also welcomed the prospectus.
He said: ‘The shipyard is a real asset for Portsmouth and can continue to play an important role in the city’s future.
‘There has been interest in the yard from a number of groups and a local task force is following up on all these leads.
‘The prospectus is an important step in providing businesses with full details so that they can properly consider how it might work for them.’
Mr Fallon was appointed to the unusual role of Minister for Portsmouth by David Cameron, who also said he wanted to see shipbuilding retained in the city.
Minister for defence equipment, support and technology Philip Dunne said: ‘Portsmouth has a bright future as an important location for the Royal Navy and industry.
‘Although no decisions have yet been made about the future of the shipbuilding site, we are now keen to progress interest from parties who can demonstrate credible potential use of the facilities.’
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation will look into appointing a marketing agent to manage a campaign asking for expressions of interest in any facilities vacated by BAE.