Devonport Dockyard deal will see new marine development
Transferring MoD land at Devonport Dockyard for commercial development will be a key feature of Plymouth's newly approved City Deal status, writes WMN Business Editor Liz Parks.
The city was invited to bid for a City Deal in the second wave of the scheme, which aims to give regional cities more powers in a bid to kickstart growth.
Plymouth, which worked with neighbouring local authorities, LEPs and businesses on its bid, was told it had been successful by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The city's bid is believed to have impressed Whitehall and, as a result, its implementation is likely to be fast-tracked.
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As well as benefiting the wider Plymouth area, the city's council said the deal would also boost regional marine science clusters in Falmouth, Hayle, North Devon and Torbay.
The council has said that supporting the city's growing marine science base will be a key part of the deal, with the transfer of surplus land at Devonport Dockyard's South Yard at the heart of the scheme. One of the city's major private sector employers, Princess Yachts, already has a base at the yard, but a previous proposal to use part of the site as a renewable energy hub didn't get off the ground.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West LEP, said the announcement would make Plymouth more attractive to investors. "This is a chance for Plymouth to capitalise on its fantastic marine assets and to show that it is capable of shaping its own destiny," he said.
Plymouth's bid also included plans to pool national business and innovation funding pots to provide more targeted support for local businesses, with a focus on the marine sector.
The City Deal would see Plymouth targeting an increase in exports by setting up a pilot with UK Trade and Investment to helps firms to reach international markets.
City Deal status would also give Plymouth greater freedom around planning legislation, housing and transport as well as more freedom to tackle skills and unemployment.
Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "This City Deal is about capitalising on what we are good at and unleashing the enormous potential of the marine science sector in Plymouth and the South West peninsula as a whole. It's about working together and creating the right conditions that enable marine businesses to flourish."