A ‘GAME-CHANGING’ vision has been unveiled to transform the gateway of Portsmouth into an advanced maritime quarter specialising in the construction of super yachts – a move that could pump hundreds of millions of pounds into the local economy.
The News can reveal property development giant Savills is working up a strategy to regenerate land around Tipner and Horsea Island that has been crying out for redevelopment for more than 40 years.
The firm says it is in talks with ‘a number of high-profile companies’ which are interested in building super yachts and setting up a dockyard-style hub where major vessels would be repaired and maintained.
Savills, which is working on the masterplan on behalf of Portsmouth City Council, says it would be a ‘game- changer’ for the city if it takes off – leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs for skilled workers.
It also brings back fresh hopes boatbuilding will once again rise to prominence in Portsmouth following defence giant BAE Systems’ decision to move its shipbuilding division from the city to the Clyde, in Scotland, resulting in up to 1,000 job losses.
Speaking to The News during a visit to the America’s Cup World Series, Savills’ director of planning, Gavin Hall, said: ‘This could be a game-changer for the city, in terms of the strategy we are looking at. It could bring hundreds of millions of pounds to the economy.
‘Tipner could be absolutely right for this type of project because of its access to the water.
‘We want to be able to help deliver the 3,500 projected new jobs for the area.
‘The people we’re talking to at the moment are involved in the maritime sector, concerning super yachts. We’re looking at the offer of boats coming in and out of the water, large boats and large super yachts.
‘The GVA from the maritime sector is about 25 per cent of this region’s economy and Tipner at the moment is not developed for that use.’
The masterplan is still in the early stages as land owned by the MoD around the Tipner harbour still needs to be freed up for development.
Chunks of the Tipner region are owned by various landowners, including the council, John Henry Pounds, Tipner Regeneration Company and the Homes and Communities Agency. So a strategy would need to be worked up to see how they would be involved, if at all, and if the council would need to seize more land to enable the project to happen and to ensure the right transport infrastructure would be in place.
Savills says it has been working with the council to form a Tipner masterplan since January this year.
The council has already been awarded £50m in the form of a City Deal from the government to kickstart regeneration and enable the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes over the next few decades.
Savills gave a presentation to potential investors and developers at Southsea Castle during the America’s Cup World Series in an effort to bring more cash to the region and to attract money for Tipner.
Mr Hall said: ‘As well as trying to lure in super yacht builders, the focus is also on getting large crane and heavy machinery firms on board to enable maritime construction to take place.
He added: ‘We are proposing a masterplan for the city, for housing and employment and it’s now about trying to get developers and investors to come and see what the city has to offer.
‘The America’s Cup has been excellent in showcasing Portsmouth and it has put the city on the map in the UK and internationally.’