DORSET could see 48,000 new jobs and 8,600 new homes in the next decade under a plan to attract business and government money.

A document signed off by business and council leaders aims to help the county compete for investment alongside the likes of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine regions.

The vision laid out in the Dorset Living Better investment prospectus would deliver a £24billion boost to the county’s economy, its authors say.

It includes:

  • A medical technology science park at Bournemouth’s Wessex Fields which could be a global leader in health innovation and healthy ageing
  • A National Aquaculture Centre of Excellence and an offshore aquaculture park, offering sustainably farmed fish, shellfish, aquatic plans and algae
  • Developing Dorset’s defence and cyber security sector, working with the army’s BattlleLab Defence Innovation Centre at Winfrith on new technology.

Where are those 48,000 jobs coming from? A closer look at the Dorset investment plans

Cecilia Bufton, chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “This is our chance to set out our stall to showcase what Dorset can do and what it’s done. We want decision makers to think of Dorset as a place to come for many of these things.”

She added: “We want Dorset to be an exporter of new thinking, a place where new approaches are tested, proven, and transferred, supporting our economy, environment and communities in the process.”

The prospectus outlines plans for technology-driven innovations that would tackle challenges such as an ageing population, cyber security and climate change while growing the economy.

Work on the document began last summer and has been driven by Dorset LEP, working with councils, business, education and environment groups.

It will guide bids for government money as well as investment from the private sector.

Shorter-term objectives include:

  • Establishing the BCP area as the Bournemouth Christchurch Poole City Region.
  • Creating a “smart challenge fund” to help businesses exploit new technologies.
  • A rural productivity deal to support the rural economy.
  • Setting up a partnership to improve digital skills.

BCP council leader Cllr Drew Mellor said: “There is a real opportunity for Dorset to live better in the wake of the pandemic and emerge stronger and more resilient. This prospectus focuses on how we can bring those benefits to all our communities and be at the centre of a global recovery.”

Dorset Council leader Cllr Spencer Flower said: “Some of the biggest challenges of our age – from an ageing population to climate change to sustainable food production – come together in Dorset as opportunities to grow knowledge, investment and wellbeing. We must grasp that opportunity.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, said: “The business community has a vital role to play in creating wealth and jobs in Dorset and will welcome this prospectus, setting out as it does a roadmap to recovery and beyond that embraces new technology and builds on our strengths.”