Major plan revealed to boost area’s economy

Commercial Road, Portsmouth
Commercial Road, Portsmouth
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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MORE than 50,000 new homes and a million square metres of employment space is being planned to boost the economy of the region.

Civic leaders have signed a decisive plan for how the Portsmouth area’s economy should develop between now and 2026.

The report reveals south Hampshire is lagging behind the rest of the South East – and more needs to be done to kickstart growth.

The South Hampshire Strategy outlines more than one million square metres of new office, manufacturing and warehousing space by 2026 and around 55,000 new homes are needed across the region as a whole.

The influential report has been agreed by the 10 leaders of PUSH – The Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, which includes Portsmouth, Havant, the southern part of East Hampshire, Fareham and Gosport.

The report focuses on Portsmouth and Southampton as the driving forces behind economic growth, with a third of development in these areas.

Leaders want to expand Portsmouth city centre northwards and attract bigger retailers to Commercial Road.

There are also expansion opportunities from Victory Retail Park to Gunwharf Quays, as well as at Lakeside.

Areas for growth include the marine, aerospace, environmental, transport and logistics industries.

More than 9,000 homes are earmarked for Portsmouth, 5,150 homes in Havant borough, 2,550 homes for Gosport, and 7,600 homes across Fareham, which includes the new settlement planned for the north of Fareham.

For Havant, the emphasis is on making the most of its transport infrastructure, with the A27, A3(M) and Hindhead Tunnel.

The Dunsbury Hill farm site, near Leigh Park, which is earmarked for a huge new business park, is identified as a key area for growth.

Meanwhile in Gosport the former defence land at Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent, is being eyed up for new housing and employment.

Other regeneration priorities are Gosport’s waterfront and Haslar Hospital.

The community north of Fareham – earmarked for 5,400 homes by 2026 – has been identified as the main area for greenfield development across the whole region.

The report states that excellent transport links between the new settlement and Fareham town centre will be essential for growth.

Seán Woodward, Fareham leader and chairman of PUSH, said: ‘This strategy sets out our vision and ambition for South Hampshire’s future and working with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, we will help to enable and unlock economic growth, focusing on the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton and other urban areas.

‘Our two cities and the surrounding urban areas make a vital contribution to the economy and have genuine potential for growth. The publication of the South Hampshire Strategy today continues to demonstrate how PUSH in collaboration with local partners are working together to secure a prosperous further for the local economy’.

Havant leader Tony Briggs said: ‘I fully endorse it because I believe it’s a blueprint for the economic growth and sustainability of not only Havant, but the PUSH area as a whole.’

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘This is a sensible way of trying to address something that’s been wrong in South Hampshire for a long time which is we have not had the economic growth there’s been in the rest of the South East.’

The report stresses that development should be focussed on urban and town centre locations.

It says the development of greenfield sites should not compromise development in towns.

PUSH has safeguarded gaps in the strategy.

Green gaps that need to be protected include land between Fareham and Whiteley, between Fareham and Gosport, and between Stubbington and Lee-on-Solent.

The report identified that transport links must be improved, including Newgate Lane, junctions 3 and 5 of the M27 and improvements to junction 9 of the M3.

Around one in five of south Hampshire’s jobs are in financial and business services – and 80 per cent of the area’s job growth will be in this sector.

The report states that 9,000 additional jobs are forecast by 2026 in the health and care sector and over 5,000 in hotels and restaurants. Leaders want more than 30 per cent of new properties across south Hampshire to be family homes.

Between 30 and 40 per cent of the new homes should be affordable, with two thirds being available for rent.

The majority of the development will be between 2016 and 2026.

The report states that 25 per cent of agricultural land in South Hampshire is grade 1 or 2 – compared to seven per cent across Hampshire as a whole. With fragility in world food supplies, planning policies should minimise development on higher quality agricultural land.

Twenty per cent of energy should be generated by renewables by 2020.

Up to 38 new hotels could be needed across south Hampshire over the next 20 years.