Council at loggerheads with MoD over key Gosport military hub

A STAND-OFF has arisen between councillors and the government over the future of an old defence site that could be key to revitalising Gosport waterfront,

The fenced-off area at Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport Picture Ian Hargreaves (180187-1)
The fenced-off area at Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport Picture Ian Hargreaves (180187-1)

The retained land at Royal Clarence Yard has been offered to the town’s council for £1 by current owners the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

But Gosport Borough Council snubbed the offer, claiming the dilapidated site would need millions of pounds pumped into it to bring it up to standard.

Instead, the authority is demanding a £2m cash sum to take on the site’s renovation, a proposal the DIO claims it has not received.

It’s the latest twist in a saga that has been dragging on since initial negotiations began more than 20 years ago.

The council says that despite wanting the yard, a number of conditions have to be met by the DIO to combat the flood risk, contamination, lack of services and the state of disrepair of the listed buildings.

According to the authority, the site could come under part of the plans for the waterfront development – but that tens of millions would be needed to even restore the buildings.

Councillor Stephen Philpott, chairman of the economic development board, said: ‘The DIO has kept the site in a state of managed decline, so the area is in a shoddy state.

‘There’s contamination in the buildings, the land is at a flood risk and there is no power, gas, water or drainage services.

‘They say that we have the first refusal on the land and we do want the site, but there have to be conditions that are met, given the current market value.

‘We want the land because it would be great for the waterfront development, but at the moment it is too big a risk to take.

‘There should be a dowry that comes with the site, given how many problems there are because we will not play Russian roulette with taxpayers’ money.

‘The DIO needs to accept there is a level of responsibility on its part.’

Councillor June Cully added: ‘The MoD has the ability to walk away from sites and let them rot, not maintaining sites and keeping them in good order – I find that appalling and I am glad the negatives of this site can be explained.

‘This site has a lot of potential and we hope that the DIO will come to its senses and talk to us, but in the current economic climate I fear it will avoid us.’

An MoD spokeswoman said the yard was originally offered to the council for a ‘nominal value’ of £1.

She added: ‘This offer was not accepted by the council and DIO has not made or received any further offers.’

to the council on this site.’