New businesses and boatbuilding get £1.2m boost

Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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SCHEMES backing business opportunities for young people have been given a boost with more than £1m of government cash.

The Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust has received £1.2m from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) for the Cell Block project which will provide studios for new businesses and an international boatbuilding training college.

And across the water, the former HMS Daedalus site at Lee-on-the-Solent has been given £5m by the RGF in a bid to make the site a major hub for marine, aviation and aerospace business.

It comes after we reported yesterday how The News teamed up with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to secure a £2.1m grant to help create jobs and boost South Hampshire’s economy.

Peter Goodship, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust chief executive, said: ‘This money will lead to the reuse and refurbishment of two important historical buildings in the dockyards.

‘It will provide money for opportunities for undergraduates and there will also be a new training facility for those wanting to acquire a skill in traditional boatbuilding.

‘It’s a diversification of what we do here and what we offer.’

The Cell Block project will see the currently run-down Victory Gate cell block converted into studios to house start-up businesses run by young people.

The University of Portsmouth will use the premises to support over 300 creative businesses and 100 private sector jobs per year, as well as providing a mentoring service to the fledgling businesses.

The boatbuilding college will establish a traditional boatbuilding college within the 1930s Boathouse 4, enabling people to learn valuable new skills. During the first three years of the project it is estimated that more than 250 people will have benefited from training.

Meanwhile, half the money at Daedalus will go towards improving the runway, while the rest will be used to provide grants for businesses either planning to come to the 202-acre site or which are already there.

Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council and a director of the Solent LEP, said: ‘It’s fantastic news for Fareham and Gosport that the bid for funding has been successful.

‘It makes Daedalus probably the most attractive site for these types of business in the region.’

Back in August this year, the site became the first designated enterprise zone in the south, meaning it would be entitled to business rate discounts and simplified planning rules.