Portsmouth is a city showing its true colour – and it‘s all blue
There‘s a sea of blue in and around Portsmouth – not just Portsmouth FC‘s colour, but also in the newly-defined political landscape and offshore where the America‘s Cup World Series (ACWS) events begin shortly
Economic regeneration remains an ongoing priority for Portsmouth and with the election over, businesses can once again focus on securing contracts and building entrepreneurial connections.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon recently announced the investment of more than £100 million in the development of facilities at Portsmouth Naval Base. The biggest chunk will be used to expand facilities, including deep harbour dredging to handle the new generation of large aircraft carriers under construction, but there will also be expansion in private companies‘ use of the facilities.
Portsmouth Dockyard, operated by the MoD working with BAE Systems, will see some facilities made available for use by private companies – BAE Systems, Burgess Marine and Magma Structures have been shortlisted.
BAE Systems‘ proposal would see its maritime services business use the facility (under the recently signed maritime support delivery framework contract) to sustain around 200 jobs in Portsmouth and free capacity elsewhere on the base to develop ship repair work.
The proposal from Burgess Marine would be to use the facilities to construct and outfit luxury yachts. A major player in the superyacht sector, Burgess estimates it could generate around 200 jobs.
Magma Structures, a specialist in the design and manufacture of large, complex composite structures, is looking to relocate from its current base to a larger waterside location. A new manufacturing base would secure the workforce of around 180 with the potential for future growth.
Good news for big companies often leads to work for others. One example is Portchester-based Meercat Workboats, which has won an order to provide BAE Systems with a bespoke dive support vessel to primarily support teams on work related to the Royal Navy vessels arriving in 2017 plus port installations. BAE Systems is committed to working with local companies, many of which are SMEs, therefore this order is a welcome demonstration of support for marine skills.
Portsmouth has areas of deprivation. Post-election, the newly-elected Conservative MPs, Flick Drummond, who replaced the Lib Dems (Portsmouth South) and Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North), have pledged to make regeneration and defence priorities.
Ben Ainslie‘s new racing HQ is open for business at the Camber in Old Portsmouth, allowing visitors to watch the team in training on the Solent. From high-tech sailing innovation, last month also marked the 250th anniversary of HMS Victory‘s launch, a star attraction at the Historic Dockyard. From old ships to new, Portsmouth is excited about the ACWS, because of its record of attracting huge spectator numbers, with wider economic benefits.
The successful M275 park-and-ride scheme offers visitors and commuters savings through a flexipass, more buses during the school holidays and a new Southsea route; it‘s also useful for sailing fans in a city short on hotel rooms. The city council has also expanded taxi hire options, having granted driver app company Uber approval to operate from 1000 Lakeside at North Harbour.
Many start-ups begin at the Portsmouth Technopole, run by Oxford Innovation, where Peter Outen has taken over as centre manager. The five-floor premises enjoys 94% occupancy and the ground floor is being transformed with a new café, three meeting rooms and break-out areas.
The University of Portsmouth is one of the top-10 modern universities in the UK, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015, while Portsmouth Business School is highly rated for proactive thinking, research and real-life learning environments.
The city council is building new industrial and enterprise units at Hilsea Industrial Estate, with work scheduled to begin in summer. Meanwhile, Your Centre (YCL) has moved to the Brunel wing of the civic offices in Guildhall Square, a space being let to established companies and start-ups as part of the council‘s drive to support business and work more efficiently.
Investment and developer opportunities abound, with significant openings for hotels, although plans to build more than one hotel at the site of Zurich House at Stanhope Road have been scaled back by Knightsbridge Student Housing.
University Technical College, a £6m institution to train the next generation of marine engineers, will open in September 2016, a project led by the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council, and one of the biggest education developments in recent years.