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New jobs and prosperity on the horizon

19 January 2022

A photo of the key stakeholders of the Oceansgate Freeport Project, including Cllr Judy Pearce

Councillors will discuss the progress of the proposed Plymouth and South Devon Freeport when South Hams District Council Executive Committee meet on 27 January 2022.

Outline proposals, which could mean 3,500 new jobs for the region and a new cycle link, have now been shared with central government. The Full Business Case (FBC) is due for submission in April.

A formal decision by the Council to proceed with the project is required by 13 April 2022, when the FBC must be submitted. The project is being put forward in partnership with Plymouth City Council (PCC) and Devon County Council (DCC). Both PCC and DCC will also be taking formal decisions on the Freeport ahead of the FBC submission.  A positive decision is required by all three Councils for the Freeport plans to proceed.

As well as tax and customs incentives to boost the economy and deliver jobs, there are a number of infrastructure improvements proposed. This includes a plan to enhance green links by building a dedicated pedestrian and cycle bridge across the A38 at Deep Lane Junction.

If the proposed Freeport gets the go-ahead it will deliver £25m in seed funding from central government to provide the required infrastructure to create the conditions for success.  It is a condition of the seed funding that it is matched by public or private investment. The proposals being discussed show that South Hams District Council could commit £5m funding towards essential land assembly, with the remaining match funding for infrastructure coming from Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council. The SHDC investment would be paid back through business rates generated from the Langage and Sherford zones. 

The project is a major scheme in the Council's corporate strategy to deliver Better Lives for All. For the South Hams, it promises to revitalise Langage industrial area and boost Sherford. Thousands of new jobs are anticipated to be created in the Freezone's first few years of operation across a range of skills, trades and professions including science, engineering and logistics. 

Cllr Hilary Bastone, South Hams District Council Executive Member for Economy said: "The Freeport will layer on tax and customs incentives for Sherford and Langage as well as South Yard in Plymouth. These incentives, together with public and private sector investment in infrastructure, will create the conditions for the Freeport to thrive directly benefiting local businesses and residents.  In short those conditions turbocharge the market, deliver growth, jobs and infrastructure.  It is however, still ultimately driven by market forces, which will dictate the pace of uptake.

"We forecast the Freeport could deliver 3,500 jobs across a range of skills and professions, including science and engineering. This forecast does not include the number of other local jobs that can be safeguarded by this investment - the local businesses that will thrive thanks to new opportunities to sell their products and services." 

The project is being backed by businesses with key anchor tenants having committed to investing in the Freeport and a strong pipeline of interest in the opportunity having been established.   

South Hams District Council Executive Committee meet at 10am on 27 January 2022. You can watch the meeting live here.

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