A FURTHER £25m will be spent in the coming year to support economic growth on the south coast – and one focus will be improving train journeys between Portsmouth and Southampton.
As part of the Solent Growth Deal more money from the government has been pledged to fund projects in Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton, the Isle of Wight and surrounding areas.
The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has to date secured more than £180m for various improvements, regenerations and new builds since 2014. It was thought the investment, topped up by local governments and European funding, would create jobs and support new and existing businesses.
Projects that have so far benefitted from the funding include Dunsbury Park and The Hard interchange bus station in the city. The deal is also intended to improve educational standards in the area with money spent on Eastleigh College and Isle of Wight College.
However, the partnership’s head of local growth, Stuart Baker, felt there were areas of Portsmouth that hadn’t yet fully realised their potential.
He said: ‘We always talk about the rail connection between Southampton and Portsmouth, it is so slow. Of the 468 town to town and city to city connections in the UK it is the second slowest. It is on average 17 kilometres per hour.
‘We really need to focus on that operation between our two cities. That’s a key priority for us.
‘We also have to look at the Solent on an international sphere rather than just as a part of the UK.
‘We should play to our strengths which are clearly around maritime in particular but not exclusively. There’s an opportunity for us to focus on those areas where we are globally strong and make us appealing to an international market. For example, making our ports more well known.’
A number of projects have been ongoing since the deal was first implemented, such as the Stubbington bypass and new housing at Centenary Quay in Southampton. This latest cash boost will ensure these will reach completion.