Crunch decision to be made over Daedalus’ future

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PLANS to turn an airfield into a major business centre for the region look set to cross a major hurdle this week.

Fareham and Gosport councillors are deciding on whether to approve plans for more than 540,000sq ft of business development on the former HMS Daedalus site in Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent.

The airfield is one of 11 enterprise zones identified in England to boost the economy.

The site is expected to attract 3,700 new jobs, mostly in the aerospace and marine industries.

If the plans are approved it will give prospective investors a firm idea of what they can expect.

Both councils will have to look at the plans as the 400-acre site is split between the two boroughs, with the runway and hangars in Fareham and the more heavily developed southern end in Gosport.

Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council and Push, a body of local councils, said: ‘It’s easily one of the most important planning applications that Fareham Borough Council has ever had to consider.

‘It’s important to Fareham, but even more so for Gosport.

‘It’s also important to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). It’s our main project and the project which the LEP and Push will be judged on.

‘There are already a lot of companies showing a lot of interest in moving here.’

The government has set a deadline of March 31 for the planning consent.

‘If the planning consent is not in place by the end of the financial year the whole thing will fall apart,’ Cllr Woodward added.

Cllr Mark Hook, Gosport’s leader, said: ‘The important thing is to create jobs on the peninsula for the workforce available.

‘There’s no point in creating 10,000 jobs for brain surgeons if that’s not your workforce.

‘But we do have a lot of experienced people working in the fields we want to attract.

‘Both Fareham and Gosport’s planning officers have been working closely with the land’s owner, the Homes and Communities Agency, to create workable plans.’

Both meetings will be held on Thursday with council reports recommending approving the plans.