A HISTORIC deal that it is claimed will help create 25,000 jobs in Dorset and will see the “major renewal” of the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road is announced today.

The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership has signed an agreement with the Government for £66.3 million of investment in the county.

The first year will see £23.9 million pumped in, with a further £42.4 million from 2016/17 onwards.

Crucially, a key part of the plan will see the long-awaited revamp of the A338 as part of a scheme to “unlock” growth at Bournemouth Airport and its business parks, which suffer from poor access.

Access to the Port of Poole – which is already working on plans for more and deeper quays, will also be improved.

A raft of other projects was also announced. Today, transport minister Baroness Kramer is set to visit both the port and the airport to look at the sites.

The partners say that as many as 25,000 jobs could be created, more than 3,000 homes built and up to £530 million in public and private investment generated.

Gordon Page, LEP chairman, said: “This deal is a major step forward for the Dorset economy.

“Regenerating the Port of Poole and building on the strengths of Bournemouth Airport have been our top priorities for some time and we are delighted that we are now in a position to really make progress, to deliver thousands of new jobs and homes.”

The Dorset LEP Growth Deal is part of a £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies.

The Government says that the deals are “the latest and greatest example of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country”.

Businesses and council leaders have been invited to open discussions immediately on the next set of projects to be funded.

The plans

- PORT of Poole – schemes to improve access, including maintaining a second bridge crossing and completing town-side access to the port, to unlock growth at the port and new development sites in Poole.

- Bournemouth Airport – transport schemes to unlock suppressed growth at the airport, including the major renewal of the A338 Spur Road.

- Orthopaedic Development and Innovation Accelerator Cluster – funding for a research centre of excellence at Bournemouth University to help grow the emerging Orthopaedic sector in Dorset.

- The Government has agreed provisional allocations to the following projects starting 16/17 and beyond:

Bournemouth and Poole College Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing – New facilities for engineering and advanced manufacturing students to help close Dorset’s high-level skills gap in this sector.

- Bournemouth and Poole College Financial and Business Services – Refurbishment of facilities to equip the next generation of entrepreneurs with the enterprise skills they need to succeed.

Cash is welcomed

JIM Stewart, CEO at Poole Harbour Commissioners, said: “The new transport projects will provide critical infrastructure for the Port of Poole and 26 hectares of brownfield land, which will be one of the largest regeneration areas in the South West.

"We are delighted that Dorset has received funding from the Growth Deal as part of the Dorset LEP’s SEP as this link is so vital to our local economy.”

Paul Knight, Managing Director of Bournemouth Airport, said: “We naturally welcome the investment announced today by the government, as we believe it affords a fantastic opportunity for the wider region.

“We believe that by investing in the road infrastructure around Bournemouth Airport it unlocks the single largest employment opportunity in the south east Dorset Conurbation.

“By investing in key infrastructure in this way, it opens up the development opportunity that exists within the business park and we can continue to attract more employers and jobs to the park as well as more airlines to the airport.”

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, leader of Borough of Poole, said: “Poole is proud of its maritime and industrial heritage, but we need to continue our regeneration of the area so that we have a future to be proud of too.

“This Growth Deal as part of Dorset LEP's Strategic Economic Plan will be vital for going forward and we welcome the news today.

“We hope it demonstrates that Poole is somewhere that businesses can invest and grow in for the future as our regeneration of the Port of Poole will continue to help our economy grow.”

Cllr John Beesley, Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “Bournemouth Borough Council is delighted by the news today that our region is receiving funding as part of the Growth Deal in response to Dorset LEP's Strategic Economic Plan.

“Both the Port of Poole and Bournemouth Airport are vital gateway links to our region, with great connections to Europe and beyond.

“We need to ensure we can take advantage of the economic benefits that these can bring and the £67million over six years funding announcement means we can make the necessary investment to improve vital infrastructure, services and transport links, including major renewal of the A338.

“Together these bring long term economic benefits for the whole region.”

Backing from Whitehall

THE deal has been backed by both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

David Cameron said: “Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.

“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great towns and cities, boosting local economies and driving growth across the country.

“This historic deal means real change for people and businesses in Dorset with big investment projects, including transport infrastructure schemes to improve access to key areas such as the Port of Poole and Bournemouth Airport, which will not only improve journeys for local people, visitors and businesses, but will also unlock redevelopment sites in and around the area.

“In addition, young people will benefit from funding for new manufacturing and engineering teaching facilities at Bournemouth and Poole College.

“By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing, we can create thousands of new jobs. And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hardworking people across the region.”