NEW funding has been released for projects to unlock housing and employment sites across Dorset.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is providing cash from the government’s Local Growth Fund to three new schemes with the aim of bringing the local, national and private sector together to create more highly skilled jobs and support economic growth.

Lorna Carver, Dorset LEP director, said: “I am excited to announce these three new projects which will increase our productivity and create future opportunities for Dorset businesses.”

Up to £1 million will be allocated to BCP Council to fund the ‘5G Digital Testbed’ project.

The venture aims to implement a world first in 5G mobile deployment in a ‘real world’ environment.

The LEP says the economic benefit of developing a “5G/Smart Place” programme across Dorset is”significant”.

“Investors have forecast that between £50-100 million of technology investment could be deployed across Dorset in the next three years,” the body says.

Stewarts Garden Centre in Wimborne will be awarded £297,000 to start work on an agri-tech plant production and educational facility. The ‘Stewarts Agri-Tech Glasshouse’ project will provide the garden centre in Broomhill with a growing facility with varied heating zones, low carbon technology and a base for horticultural education. The LEP says this will enable the nursery to deliver growth, both in terms of productivity and employees, be competitive in the market and provide education with a variety of stakeholders, such as Kingston Maurward College.

Finally, receiving £250,000, Weymouth College will build and launch ‘The Centre of Excellence for Motor Vehicle Technology’, a project aimed at future-proofing the college’s motor vehicle workshop space and developing hybrid and fully electric vehicle facilities.

Jim Stewart, Dorset LEP chairman, said: “The launch of these new projects show that Dorset LEP is ambitious and forward thinking. 5G, agriculture and automotive technology are exciting sectors which have the potential to improve Dorset’s economy and skills.”