Plymouth City Council has joined forces with neighbours at Devon County and South Hams District Council in a bid to unlock £35 million pounds of funding for the area.
The Freeport bid, which was submitted to the government on Friday, would see the area become one of 10 zones around the country to benefit from import and export tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth, and innovation.
A Plymouth and South Devon freezone would create space for businesses to import goods and materials, add value to them (by manufacture), and export them and leverage the city’s marine innovation strengths to attract big marine sector tech companies. Industry giants Babcock and Princess Yachts have already backed the bid.
In the submission, our freezone would include sites at South Yard, Langage Energy Zone and Sherford Business Park.
Estimates suggest that it could create more than 1,000 new jobs in the first two years and up to 9,000 over the next 10 years and 50 new apprenticeships and 10 internships every year by 2027.
Meanwhile, more than 70 local businesses would benefit from the scheme, which is forecast to bring in over £100m investment in the next six years.
The recent Centre for Cities annual report identifies Plymouth as the only major city in the south of England with a major levelling up agenda to address. The freezone will play an important part in addressing this challenge.
Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Quite simply, this bid is a no brainer for the south west and could help our thriving marine sector to build upon its already strong national and international reputation.
“It also makes complete sense to partner with our neighbours, who we already have strong ties with through our development of the Joint Local Plan.
“Between the three authorities, we have the facilities and we have the industries so if we can get the money and the help from government, then we’ll be looking at a much brighter future in these most uncertain of times.”
Leader of Devon County Council John Hart added: “This is an excellent example of the type of cross-party cooperation and partnership between councils that we will need to get the economy moving again once the pandemic is over.
“We have worked together quickly to submit this bid which will benefit Devon and Plymouth and we look forward to financial backing from the Government for a scheme which will help to level up the regional economy and provide good jobs for local people.”
South Hams District Council’s Leader, Cllr Judy Pearce, said: “This bid application adds to the success of our Joint Local Plan partnership with Plymouth City Council, along with Devon County Council, in our shared goal to deliver strong growth and local employment across South West Devon.
“It would give us the opportunity to access millions of pounds of government investment for infrastructure which will create the perfect conditions for new businesses to both thrive and innovate. This is something that is vital following the COVID pandemic.”
The government funding aspect is for £17.5 million which with matched funding will become £35 million.
The knock-on effect locally will enable Devon County Council to bring forward works at the Deep Lane junction on the A38, unlocking housing at Sherford.
More details on freeports can be found on the government website.