Boost for jobs as innovation centre gets the go-ahead

PLEASED Cllr Nick Walker
PLEASED Cllr Nick Walker

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AN INNOVATION centre that will bring jobs and investment to Fareham and Gosport has been given the green light by councillors.

Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee hailed the plans for the site at Daedalus, Lee-on-the-Solent, as ‘attractive’ and ‘first class’ when they permitted the development yesterday.

Agent Perkins Ogden Architects put in the application for a 2,404 sq m innovation centre – a mix of offices and workshops – opposite the Centre of Excellence for Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training (Cemast).

Colin Mitchell, from Perkins Ogden Architects, urged the councillors to agree to the plans.

He said: ‘The purpose of the innovation centre is to provide a facility where SME businesses can prosper, grow and move on.

‘It will provide new jobs, highly-skilled jobs in marine, aviation and advanced engineering. By providing on-site support, sites like this one have a track record of helping new business to survive and grow. The new building will be adjacent to Cemast and will be looking to attract budding entrepreneurs who are completing courses there to set up businesses.’

Council officers went through the plans, which include a car park with more than 100 spaces and further parking to the north west.

The centre will create 150 jobs and is part of an £8.3m investment package by the council and from the Homes and Community Agency.

One resident had written an objection, raising concerns over drainage on the site, which had been taken into consideration.

Councillors on the planning committee also raised concerns about the lack of a short-stay drop-off bay at the front of the centre.

Councillor Peter Davies said he was particularly concerned as the number of buses from Fareham had been cut to two a day and he insisted a condition be added to the permission for a bonded travel plan to be agreed before the construction goes ahead.

Chair of the planning committee, Cllr Nick Walker, said: ‘This is a first-class building. It is a real compliment to Fareham.’

Deputy Cllr Arthur Mandry said: ‘It is a marvellous scheme.’

They agreed to the proposal with the added requirement of a travel plan. The agent hopes the centre will be completed by March 2015.