Hundreds of jobs planned under government’s Getting Building plan

HAMPSHIRE is getting a much-needed boost with the announcement of a £15.9million government package that should create 730 jobs and 1,560 homes.

The Port of Southampton will get a fifth cruise terminal, while 100 jobs will be created at a centre for environmentally, robotic vessels in Woolston.

The government’s Getting Building Fund is handing out £900m across the country to “shovel-ready” projects which can boost economic recovery.

It says the money for schemes submitted by Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will “help position the Solent as the UK’s capital of coastal renaissance”, harnessing new technology to revitalise communities and improve the environmental performance of a big carbon-generating sector.

Solent LEP chief executive Anne-Marie Mountifield said: “This is a timely and unparalleled opportunity to restart the Solent’s visitor economy which has been so deeply impacted in 2020.

“The cruise industry is a lynchpin of our national visitor economy with the Solent’s share of activity standing at 86 percent. That is why it is critical for the region that we support it to be competitive on a global stage, in order that the Solent remains a destination of choice in coming years.

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“Investment in our world-leading cruise industry will not only benefit the sector, but also represents a strong backing for our local supply chains, transport links, retail and hospitality businesses that rely on the customer base generated by activity at the port.

“Alongside this, we have an unprecedented opportunity to bring forward a greener recovery for the sector, reducing emissions at sea, shore and across the supporting logistics and infrastructure network.”

The Solent plans include:

  • Confirmation of a fifth cruise terminal at Southampton, with solar generation and shore power, ensuring a “world-leading zero emissions facility” for cruise vessels at a cost of £8m.
  • Establishing Silicon Wharf at Woolston, a £1.4m operator training centre for electric and hybrid robotic vessels, creating 100 “high value” jobs.
  • Fawley Waterside Digital, a £1.5m project to improve the Waterside’s digital network Waterside alongside planned road improvements.
  • Funding for a project by the Partnership for South Hampshire to mitigate the effect of pollution by excessive nutrients, enabling 1,522 houses to be built on agricultural land and unlocking 3,000 construction jobs.
  • A £1.7m Centre for Enzyme Innovation at Portsmouth, developing ways to recover and reuse plastics, alongside an Industrial Engagement Hub for companies to harness science.
  • 42 affordable homes plus commercial space at a “rural employment hub” at Branstone Farm on the Isle of Wight.

The plans should generate 3,630 construction jobs, unlock 2,800sqm of commercial space and improve or create 42,500sqm of public space, as well as saving 34million kilograms of CO2. There should be 23,050 new superfast broadband connections.

Ross McNally, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber, called the news “an important boost for the Solent economy just when we need it”.

He added: “This will create positive benefits right across a range of sectors and within the supply chains. Supporting the cruise sector and low-carbon business innovations and developments at Fawley will provide new approaches to revitalising these coastal and business communities, whilst delivering a valuable and growing commitment to decarbonisation.”

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Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: “This government promised to provide additional funding for shovel-ready projects so it is brilliant news that £9.4m will be invested in environmentally conscious projects in Southampton.

“I have long been calling for more investment to help revitalise Southampton, so it is great to see this becoming a reality once again with this big government backed scheme.”

“This announcement will provide a much-needed funding boost and will help to generate employment, opportunity and clean growth in our city.”

Associated British Ports (ABP) regional director Alastair Welch said: “We are pleased to hear of the announcement confirming the government’s continued support for the cruise sector, which is crucial to our economy. We look forward to confirming the details linked to this announcement to ensure we are able to support the resumption and future growth of cruise as soon as possible.”

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