Gosport is going through a major transformation.
For a long time, the town has had to battle the downfalls that come with being a town on a small peninsula, often overlooked by governments looking to dish out cash for projects.
But now, there are many new things on the horizon.
Some form of development is taking place in most corners of the town, and other projects are in the pipeline.
Against this backdrop, Gosport Borough Council has produced the Gosport Plan.
The plan is a draft document, almost 300 pages long, which sets out the council’s hopes for the town from now until 2029.
There are several key pieces of the jigsaw which it is hoped will see development in the timescale of the plan.
Haslar, Rowner, the former Daedalus airfield, the town centre and the waterfront are a selection of areas which have all either seen, or will see, redevelopment.
And people are being urged to read the document, and have their say on what they think the priorities should be.
Councillor Michael Lane, the chairman of the council’s economic development board, said: ‘The borough is going through a period of major transformation and the new draft local plan will set a vision for Gosport’s future.
‘The new plan will seek to balance many needs.
‘There are 50 detailed policies outlined in the document, including a need to protect and enhance the town’s heritage and environment, while embracing new employment opportunities, regeneration, community growth and renewal.
‘It will make provision for new homes, employment and retail space but, importantly, it will include measures to protect our open space, natural habitats and community facilities our residents enjoy.’
One of the biggest hopes for Gosport lies in the redevelopment of the former Daedalus airfield at Lee-on-the-Solent.
Campaigners worked tirelessly to lobby the government to make it an Enterprise Zone – which comes will millions of pounds of investment. And last year it was given the green light to create almost 1,200 jobs.
Work will begin soon on widening Newgate Lane, a crucial transport link to the area, and £12m has been pledged to build a training centre on the site to teach engineering skills.
Elsewhere in the town, aspirations for the future of former Royal Hospital Haslar are moving at a much slower pace.
The firm behind the plans, Our Enterprise, says the tough economic climate has hindered the progress of its hopes for the site.
Great fanfare accompanied an announcement in 2010 that the town would see its first chain hotel, to be built at the Gosport Leisure Park.
And hot on its heels now comes plans for another development, in Gosport’s town centre, which would see a second hotel built.
Businesses in the area are backing the idea. Many of the areas covered by the plan have already seen development.
The Rowner Renewal Partnership, a consortium between the Homes and Communities Agency, Gosport Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, housing firm First Wessex and developer Taylor Wimpey, is soon to start work on the third phase of the regeneration of what was one of the most deprived areas of Gosport. Hundreds of homes have been built, and a new Tesco store is due to open in later this year.
Gosport’s council also recently signed a contract with a water park provider to build a new splash park at Stokes Bay to replace the damaged paddling pool there.
And work on the new Gosport Leisure Park has passed its first major milestone with the opening of a new leisure centre on New Year’s Eve.
The centre replaces the crumbling Holbrook Leisure Centre and brings with it outdoor football pitches and modern facilities.
Work on the site is not over, with construction on the town’s first chain hotel due to begin alongside a restaurant. The nearby ice rink is also expected to have a revamp to bring it up to the standard the new leisure centre has set.
People have until February 13 to have their say in the first stage of consultation on the Gosport Plan.
Cllr Lane added: ‘I look forward to the responses received to this important consultation that will further improve the plan and the potential to realise development in Gosport that future generations will recognise as appropriate for their future and sensitive to our heritage.’
Members of the public can view the document and have their say in several ways.
The document can be downloaded from the council’s website at www.gosport.gov.uk/localplan2029.
It can also be found in the council’s town hall, in High Street, on the third floor reception.
Copies have also been distributed to libraries in the town. The consultation closes on February 13.
The key elements
Daedalus Enterprise Zone
Promises of funding followed the official announcement the former Daedalus airfield at Lee-on-the-Solent would become an enterprise zone and receive government help.
The Alver Valley, a former quarry and landfill site, is the main area of separation between Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent.
The Gosport Plan will see it developed into a country park to draw in visitors.
Volunteers area already hard at work planting greenery and laying pathways.
Town centre and waterfront
Gosport’s council hopes to seize upon its proximity to the waterfront to bring in developments around the town centre.
Gosport Leisure Park
This month saw the official opening of the swimming pool at the town’s new leisure park, which replaces the crumbling Holbrook Leisure Centre.
A restaurant and hotel is soon to follow.
Work is due to begin on the third phase of the Rowner renewal project, which has already seen the construction of hundreds of new homes.
A Tesco superstore will open in the area this year.
Plans to redevelop the former hospital site have frozen after falling victim to the tough economic climate.
The development would see employment opportunities, housing and facilities for armed forces veterans.