The Solent Growing Places Fund is a £16,739,000 fund to support infrastructure projects that unlock new jobs and homes in the Solent.
The fund is for large scale infrastructure projects such as road networks, service and utility installation and broadband provision and bids have been invited for a minimum of £100,000. The Solent Growing Places Fund operates on a revolving basis in order to support as many projects as possible and the LEP has considered investing in projects on a loan, forward funding or equity share basis. As repayments are made to the fund, this money will be made available to support more projects in the Solent. Grant funding is not available.
The first Solent Growing Places funding round saw £11m invested into infrastructure at the Solent Enterprise Zone, which has leveraged investment from other public sector partners to bring forward an investment package valued at over £25m and will result in the creation of almost 1,200 jobs.
The fund has since been opened to applications direct from the private sector and, in light of the announcement on Wednesday 6th November 2013 that shipbuilding operations at Portsmouth Naval Base would cease in the second half of 2014, resulting in the loss of over 1100 jobs in the Solent, the fund was also opened to applications for projects that focus on job creation or safeguarding in the advanced manufacturing, defence, marine and maritime sectors.
Solent Growing Places Fund Projects
Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training
The Solent LEP has allocated £3m from the Solent Growing Places Fund to Fareham College to bring forward ambitious plans for a new £12m Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST) at the Solent Enterprise Zone. Since then, funding sources from the Solent Growing Places Fund, Regional Growth Fund, Hampshire County Council and Skills Funding Agency have been aligned to make the centre a reality, and the project has been delivered at a rapid rate; with the new centre due to open its doors in September 2014.
Specialising in STEM skills, the college will help train more than 900 full and part-time learners, apprentices, and employees per week to support local companies in the development of new engineering and manufacturing solutions, and help create or safeguard over 400 jobs in the Solent area.
From September 2014, CEMAST will act as the main learning centre for students in apprenticeship programmes with BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Virgin Atlantic, Coopervision, Burgess Marine and Jensen Motorsport to mention but a few. Further information is available at: www.fareham.ac.uk/cemast/
Solent Enterprise Zone Infrastructure
The Solent LEP has utilised £8m from the Solent Growing Places Fund to bring forward an infrastructure package valued at over £15m, with additional investment secured from Hampshire County Council and the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. The funding is being used to unlock 21.6 acres of land for the development of new commercial space and 90 new homes. The investment also supports the development of 25,000 sq ft of new advanced manufacturing business space beside the airfield through installation of on-site business critical infrastructure, as well as off-site upgrades to improve access to the site. The package will create around 220 construction jobs and nearly 680 jobs when work is complete.
Further information is available at: www.solentez.co.uk
£2m has been awarded to Griffon Hoverwork to enable the research, design and build of two new passenger ferry hovercraft which have replaced the former vessels which had been serving the Isle of Wight for 25 years. The first of the new vessels - the Solent Flyer - was launched in the summer of 2016 and is now safeguarding a key connectivity route to the Isle of Wight, providing significant environmental improvements as well as creating 40 new and safeguarding over 400 jobs. The second vessel - the Island Flyer - is due to launch later this year.