The opportunity for Gosport to become a driving force in both the Solent and UK economy has been set out in a new report, published today by the Solent LEP.
The LEPs Gosport Infrastructure Investment Plan identifies the economic infrastructure investments which will enable the development and evolution of Gosport as a world-class global hub for marine and maritime activity. Through developing the area as a ‘First Port of Call’ for business, the LEP hopes to secure a more self-sufficient economy, with a larger employment base and broader range of job opportunities for local Gosport residents.
Publication of the report follows the release by the Ministry of Defence of an update to its Defence Estate Optimisation Programme yesterday, which sets out new information for 33 military sites across the UK; including HMS Sultan in Gosport. The report confirms that the planned closure of HMS Sultan, the home of the Defence School of Marine Engineering and the Royal Naval Air Engineering Survival School, will now be delayed from 2026 to "no earlier than 2029".
HMS Sultan is located in the centre of Gosport Borough and functions as a training base for the MoD, also accommodating advanced engineering training to private sector companies. Sultan is identified as a key site in the investment plan, which prioritises the opportunity for the local area to work more closely with the MoD, and other academic providers, to identify a broad range of development opportunities – including intensifying the on-site education and training offer.
Opportunities are also identified at other strategic Gosport sites, such as Fort Blockhouse, Royal Clarence Yard, Haslar Immigration Removal Centre, Royal Hospital Haslar and others, each of which will have an important role to play in shaping the future of Gosport and helping achieve the overall economic vision.
The Solent LEP hopes to work with local partners and HM Government to support these sites and emulate the success of the LEPs Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus, which has seen a previously disused MoD site transformed into a thriving advanced manufacturing and engineering employment hub on the peninsular.
Anne-Marie Mountifield, Solent LEP Chief Executive, said:
"The report identifies the key elements of a bold and exciting vision for Gosport. It is a vision we hope to see realised through future public and private sector investment to establish Gosport as a driving force in both the regional and national economy. In the coming year, we will be working to agree a local industrial strategy with HM Government to drive future investment and, based on the evidence set out in the report published today, I expect to see the area feature in the broader Solent strategy which is seeking to unlock the potential of key coastal and waterfront communities such as Gosport."
Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, said:
"I’m delighted that the Ministry of Defence have finally concluded what local people have always known, that HMS Sultan remains a huge asset for the MoD, the Royal Navy and Gosport. This area has a proud history of serving our Armed Forces and excellent facilities such as these are vital to ensuring that our personnel are equipped with the skills they need to defend our country. This is a vital step towards securing a long term, sustainable future for HMS Sultan and I am looking forward to working with the LEP to secure further investment at the site, and wider Gosport peninsular, to realise the exciting vision for Gosport set out in the Gosport Infrastructure Investment Plan."
An executive summary of the Gosport Infrastructure Investment Plan is available here.
The full report can be downloaded here.