Gary Jeffries, the chairman of the Solent LEP, was not exaggerating when he called its growth plans for the area ‘ambitious.’
However, realising those ambitions will not come cheap.
In order to achieve those goals of creating some 15,000 jobs, as well as building 24,000 homes in the region, the LEP is looking for a ‘critical’ £300m.
This is why The News is calling on ministers to award the money to Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.
This not a case of going cap in hand, begging the government for handouts – there are sound reasons for the money to come here.
As anyone who travels along the region’s main roads at rush hour can tell you, congestion already leaves several areas gridlocked.
The M27 is the main coastal artery between Portsmouth and Southampton and is crucial to businesses, but can often see traffic bumper-to-bumper at peak times. If the bid is successful, £35m will go towards finally making junction 10 accessible from all directions.
Coming and going from the Gosport peninsula has long been problematic and with Welborne, a new town of more than 6,000 homes being planned for north of Fareham, things will only get far worse if nothing is done.
If we are to successfully encourage businesses here, something needs to be done to resolve these problems.
Some of the schemes the cash would go towards, such as a Stubbington bypass, have been talked about for decades. Now finally there is a chance they could become reality.
The £20m already pledged to the region by the government is not to be sniffed at – those schemes at The Hard Interchange in Portsmouth and turning undeveloped land in Havant into a business park are also important to securing long-term growth.
But with 39 other LEPs also looking for a slice of the £10bn pot, we need local politicians to help in the fight for this cash and to lobby government as well.
All of these grand plans could bring £2bn to the region, but not if the infrastructure isn’t ready.
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