AN INFLUX of job opportunities and marine development could be on the horizon in Gosport, after a former MoD site was put up for sale.
The retained land at Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport has been released by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), including old tank stores and a steam fire engine house.
Marketed towards marine industry, it is hoped by marketers, businesses and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage that the site could revitalise the area.
But Gosport Borough Council has warned of major obstacles that will have to be overcome during the development.
Spanning 5.7 acres, the site is being toted as an opportunity to match Gunwharf Quays’ offering across the harbour.
Lambert Smith Hampton has confirmed that a ‘handful’ of offers have already come in for the site.
Associate director Guy Jackson said: ‘This rare opportunity forms the next chapter in the story of Royal Clarence Yard which has, over the last 10 years, transformed from its original use as a Royal Naval victualling yard into a successful mix of residential, light industry, office and leisure uses.
‘The prestigious, historic nature of the site and access to the harbour make Royal Clarence Yard very attractive for marine use, and the sale will bring huge employment and economic benefits to Gosport while preserving its historic status and underlining the area’s rich marine heritage.
‘We are very excited about the potential for this scheme and are expecting very high levels of interest in the site.’
Julie Malec, owner of Arty’s at Royal Clarence Marina, believes the sale is an opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Gunwharf Quays.
She said: ‘This area was meant to be Gosport’s answer to Gunwharf – but there are a few problems like parking and so on.
‘Any development that enhances this area would be greatly welcomed though.
‘I don’t know how much commercial space there would be, but it would be great to have a cinema around here.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage is also excited about the development of the site, should the right investor come forward.
She said: ‘This site represents a great opportunity to bring economic benefits to the Gosport area.
‘However, it’s imperative that the government learn the lessons of past public estate disposals – namely the importance of partnering with investors who genuinely have the vision and resources to deliver imaginative and timely regeneration, not end up simply covering our peninsula in yet more houses.’
But Gosport Borough Council say that there is a huge catch to taking on the site.
The council was previously offered the site by the DIO for just £1 – but refused it as the repair job on the site would cost ‘millions’.
Council leader Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘Our position as a council is clear.
‘It will cost more than £6m just to make the buildings wind and watertight – and because they are listed buildings you can’t just come along and demolish them.
‘If a speculative developer is considering buying Royal Clarence Yard I recommend they come and talk to us first, just to make sure they’re aware of the significant cost associated with it.’
Lambert Smith Hampton has confirmed that it has ‘no expectation’ on the price of Royal Clarence Yard, and will instead choose a developer based on what they offer for the future of the site.