This blueprint must not kill the goose that laid golden egg

New commercial life is sprouting in Copnor Road

VERITY LUSH: Green shoots of recovery sprouting in northern Portsmouth

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With the inevitable and seemingly irreversible decline of the Royal Navy, the wider Portsmouth area must re-invent itself.

No longer can we look to the long-term and assume some God-given right that the Senior Service and associated defence industries can bale us out of the economic mire.

Of course, Portsmouth and its surrounding towns have long-realised this, but there have been few concerted efforts to look to the future as a region as opposed to a squabbling bunch of self-interested separate entities.

In the mid-1990s there was an attempt by Portsmouth and Gosport to breathe new economic life into the region with the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour millennium project. It happened eventually, but Portsmouth, with the redevelopment of Gunwharf Quays, got the better of that deal.

Which is why today we give a cautious welcome to the influential report from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) which publishes its plan for how the region’s economy should develop in the next 14 years.

As it points out, if we are not to keep losing out to places like the Guildford or Brighton areas, we need to offer an attractive alternative for inward investment.

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

But, as ever in these matters, there is a fine balance to be achieved.

We are lucky enough to live and work in one of the most attractive waterfront regions in Britain.

In the rush to create jobs and wealth, we must not kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

There is no point building all those new factories, offices and warehouses, let alone tens of thousands of homes, if the coastline and the countryside – such huge draws in the overcrowded south-east – are to be swallowed up to turn us into a grotesque Solent City.