£2.2m funding to kick-start major developments
Plans to transform Gosport's waterfront and create new homes have had a £2.2m boost.
The money will be used by Gosport Borough Council to help pave the way for two ambitious projects.
One is the transformation of the bus station site, near the ferry terminal, into an iconic waterfront development with shops, places to eat and flats.
The other is the redevelopment of the council's Wilmott Lane depot to create modern, eco-friendly homes.
The money - £1.35m for the bus station site and £850,000 for the depot plan - has come after successful applications by the council to the government's Brownfield Land Release Fund, via the One Public Estate programme.
The fund, part of the national levelling-up agenda, is designed to help local councils progress new developments on brownfield (previously built-on) sites that they own. It can be difficult to attract developers to such sites because they can need costly clean-up and demolition work.
The council is working to replace the present ageing bus station with a new harbourside area that will attract more shoppers and tourists to the borough and boost the local economy. This could include bars and restaurants, shops, a hotel, a gym and a visitor centre celebrating Gosport's naval heritage. At least 200 energy-efficient homes could be provided as part of the scheme.
The new government money would be used to help prepare the site, including demolishing the bus station, to make it a more attractive proposition for developers.
Hampshire County Council is leading on a project to build a new transport interchange nearby, and is now seeking planning permission.
At the Wilmott Lane depot, Gosport Borough Council hopes to demolish the buildings, clean up contamination and remove underground storage tanks, as preparation for redevelopment. Council services would move to other sites.
The depot site could be suitable for about 160 new energy-efficient homes, a large proportion of which could be social housing with affordable rents.
Cllr Graham Burgess, Leader of the Council, said: "This money is a huge boost to our plans to bring new life to Gosport's town centre with an attractive harbourside development - a new gateway for the borough - and create badly-needed new homes.
"The old bus station is an eyesore and needs to go, but we need to smooth the way for potential developers so they can create something special for Gosport, while making commercial sense for them.
"Similarly, the old depot site is rundown and in poor condition, and not suitable for a residential area next to a beautiful Victorian cemetery. But to create new homes there we need to get the site cleared and cleaned up.
"Both these projects will create jobs and help the local economy as we look forward to emerging from the pandemic."
The two projects are both at an early stage and will need to go through the planning approval process, which will involve public consultation.