Work set to see a flying start at Daedalus airfield

The Daedalus site
The Daedalus site

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A MAJOR scheme of investment for the airfield between Fareham and Gosport looks set to get the go-ahead at two council meetings next week.

The improvement plans for the Daedalus airfield, at Lee-on-the-Solent, are part of the Solent Enterprise Zone, and will go before Fareham Borough Council on Monday and then Hampshire County Council on Tuesday.

The investment will see a total of around £50m put into the site to renovate the runway, provide new hangar space and build an innovation centre for small businesses.

The airfield is a major attraction for the Solent Enterprise Zone. It was originally used for seaplane training during the First World War, then as a military base until 2006, when the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) bought it.

Fareham council agreed to the initial improvements in July and in October it agreed to a funding arrangement, including a £3m loan from the Solent LEP and a £5.3m investment from the Homes and Community Agency.

The council has to complete the innovation centre by March 2015 as part of a condition set by the HCA and work has already started on its initial design.

Next week it will put the work out to a procurement process to secure a contractor, with a view to starting work at the site in May next year.

A report from the borough council states: ‘Negotiations are under way concerning the location of the new hangar and the timing of its construction. The nature of its specification and design will be sufficiently flexible to ensure it is suitable for the length of its useful life.’

Fareham council will agree a structure for the project and create a group, made up of four councillors, to monitor the progress.

The county council is expected to be the delivery partner for the runway, although it has not put any money into the project, with Fareham Borough Council taking full control. This means the county council will use its buying power to secure the best deal for the runway resurfacing.

Executive member for transport at the county council and leader of Fareham council, Cllr Sean Woodward, said: ‘We are looking to create thousands of jobs with this project as well as improving access to the site.

‘We are going to bring the old runway back to life so that we can resurface the existing one, so at the end we will have two usable runways.

‘It is the most important project in the Solent at this time.’