A SOUTH Shields-headquartered maritime repair company has purchased a former Ministry of Defence site in Gosport – with a plan to invest 'millions' in the area.
UK Docks, based in Tyneside, has purchased the five and a half acre site of Royal Clarence Yard.
The yard includes a number of listed buildings, including the Steam Fire Engine House and the main Boat
The yard had previously been offered to Gosport Borough Council for a £1 – but the offer was rejected because of the extensive repairs required on the site.
Harry Wilson, Managing Director of UK Docks, said the company’s purchase of the site had cost ‘well over one pound’ and would see millions of pounds invested into it over the next decade.
He said: ‘We were in competition for the site – but we paid a fair price for it.
‘In the past, we have taken over four companies which had all been in a derelict condition, and in each case we have spent our time improving each one.’
The yard includes the remains of the railway station used by Queen Victoria, advertised as being a potential site for a café or restaurant.
The managing director of UK Docks said the company would primary use the site to expand its maritime servicing and repair business, as well as making it a ‘pleasurable part of Gosport’ to visit.
Mr Wilson said the amount invested would depend on the planning process.
Councillor Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said ‘this land is the final piece of the jigsaw’ when it came to redeveloping the section of the waterfront.
He said: 'We have had talks with the company several years ago, so their purchase does not come as a surprise.
‘Anything that drives business in to the area has got to be a good thing.
Cllr Hook said there was ‘no doubt’ the new owner was aware of the investment required.
Robin Dickens, Director of Lambert Smith Hampton, which acted as the selling agent on behalf of the MOD, said the five and a half acre site was one of the largest sold in the last decade.