Fareham council to spend £600,000 to 'future proof' business units at Solent Airport over steel shortage fears

PLANS for new industrial and business units in Solent Airport have been expanded with a six-figure cost to ‘future proof’ them in the face of a national steel shortage.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:20 pm

Fareham Borough Council is building four new industrial units with 55,000 square foot of floor space at the council-owned airport in Daedalus Drive

Now the council has increased the budget for the project from £5m to £5.6m to give the units a steel framework ready for office space.

The decision was made to ‘future proof’ the site in the face of a national steel shortage, according to Councillor Sean Woodward, executive leader of Fareham Borough Council.

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The additional spend comes to secure building materials as a national steel shortage delays projects across the country. Picture: Fareham Borough Council.

He said: ‘(There is) a national lack of steel, so we don’t want any hold-ups. If we get any steel framework that is needed, that would allow anyone to put in a mezzanine flooring for office space.

‘It’s future proofing it now to make it more let-able, rather than sorting it out in the future and suddenly there’s no steel.

‘You go to some northern counties and you cannot even buy a bag of cement and a plank of woods. It’s absolutely incredible the construction shortages.’

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An additional £600,000 has been allocated to 'future proof' new industrial units under construction at Solent Airport as the country faces a steel shortage. Picture: Fareham Borough Council.

Building projects across the country have been placed on hold due to the lack of material, with British Steel – one of the leading steel manufacturers in Europe – saying earlier this week that it was facing ‘exceptional demand’.

The new units are being marketed to potential industrial tenants as featuring large nine-metre eaves, generous yard space and the flexibility to arrange internal space.

But two of the units were originally designed with limited office space – with the potential to hamper the council’s efforts to let out the space, according to a report.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the council’s executive, Cllr Woodward said: ‘We have been advised by a consultant’s report that it is very likely that people will want to produce office space within their workshop space in order to carry out there functions.’

The new industrial units will aim to have the highest energy performance rating, PV panels, and capability for electric car charging.

The council aims to created 1,100 jobs at the airport by 2040, but the latest figures show that the local authority is on track to exceed this goal 35 year early, according to Cllr Woodward.

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