Havant Borough Council has high hopes for Dunsbury Park freeport

Havant Borough Council has taken steps to securing a freeport area in a bid to create new opportunities for local residents.

By Toby Paine
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 4:35 pm

A freeport is an area that promotes economic activity by providing a range of tax benefits - the freeport could create jobs, investment and opportunities in the local area.

The Solent Freeport was announced in March last year by central government, Dunsbury Park sits within the freeport area and is a key employment site in the borough.

Councillor Alex Rennie, leader of the council said: ‘I think it’s really exciting to see a flagship government policy like this here in the borough and the fact that we are an integral part of that is a really exciting opportunity.

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Work on Dunsbury Park in late 2020 Picture: Portsmouth City Council

‘We’ve identified through our corporate strategy the opportunity that the freeport delivers - the opportunities of jobs.

'One of our biggest priorities is ensuring that the skills of the borough matches the jobs that are provided at the new tax site - we’ll keep pushing via our director on the freeport that we do get that skills centre for Leigh Park.'

The freeport offers a range of opportunities including private sector investment, additional revenue for the council and training and employment opportunities for local residents.

The proposed skills centre in Leigh Park could address socio-economic challenges as it's within the 10 per cent most deprived communities in the country.

Cllr Gwen Robinson, Tory councillor for Waterloo and cabinet lead for affordable housing and communities added: ‘For me, this skills centre and everything that Dunsbury has to offer is an excellent opportunity to uplift the deprived areas in the borough, the impact that will have in terms of people's self-worth and self-esteem, giving them a future I think it’s invaluable.’

The council has delegated its acting CEO to sign off a full business case and a memorandum of understanding to enable submission of proposals to central government - if everything is approved the freeport could be operational by the end of the year.