Multi-million ‘levelling-up’ projects for Portsmouth and East Cowes underway

Portsmouth International Port terminal extension

Regeneration is currently underway in Portsmouth and East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, as part of the government’s controversial £4.8bn ‘levelling-up’ fund.

In 2021, £20 million was awarded to north Portsmouth from the fund — designed to combat regional inequality.

Alongside a new £11.25m terminal extension at Portsmouth International Port, the funds will also go towards refurbishing the much-loved Hilsea Lido and developing the longest urban park in the UK — Linear Park.

In addition, the town of East Cowes on the Isle of Wight was also awarded £6 million from the fund in 2021 to support a new marine hub and regeneration of the waterfront, which is now under construction.

New marine hub in East Cowes

East Cowes has long been a centre for the marine industry, and a sailing hotspot. A new marine hub will be created on the East Cowes waterfront using the levelling-up funds.

Part of the funding will go towards a new boat hoist installation in the Columbine building — home to Wight Shipyard Company. The installation will help the shipyard deliver sustainable high-speed ferries and increase the shipyard’s capacity.

Wight Shipyard

The Wight Shipyard Company will have the opportunity to expand its marine design studio as part of the funding package. The upgrades will provide flexible workspace for businesses and people in the community.

Victoria Barracks, a 19th-century garrison building, will also be renovated to provide a new facility for the UK Sailing Academy charity.

The repurposed building will be multi-purpose and used to develop marine skills in people from different ages and backgrounds.

“East Cowes has long been … connected with the heritage of the Island, and this investment will help secure much-needed skilled employment,” says councillor Lora Peacey-Wilcox, Isle of Wight council leader.

Isle of Wight

Improvements to Albany Green will help enhance the entrance to East Cowes Esplanade. This underused space will be transformed into a centre of activity. Other plans include storage lockers for water users, a covered exhibition space and a new viewing platform.

North Portsmouth port boost

Portsmouth International Port offers more destinations to Europe than any other UK port. Building on this success, the redevelopment will let the port manage an estimated 250,000 extra passengers a year.

The new port terminal will also include an exclusive cruise lounge, a new check-in area and a sky garden.

Portsmouth

“This development is fantastic news for the city, providing employment opportunities and promoting Portsmouth’s offer as the UK’s leading marine and maritime city,” says councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council. “We expect the improved facilities to kick start further investment in the city, from hotel capacity to increased tourism spending. We are proud of our position as the UK’s most successful local authority-owned port, and this new extension will see the port go from strength to strength.”

Levelling-up was a flagship policy of the Boris Johnson government, under then-chancellor and now PM, Rishi Sunak.

In recent months, many have accused the government of funnelling money into constituencies that would benefit the Conservative party politically. The Good Law Project — a non-profit legal company – instigated a judicial review in August 2021 to explore the criteria used for selecting areas that will benefit from the funding.

However, on 11 January 2023, the Good Law Project announced it would be withdrawing from the case due to legal advice received regarding the likelihood of success.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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