Interview: Emily Dickson from Hampshire County Council

Fri 4th July 2014, 11:08 am

The Sitematch London team caught up with Emily Dickson, regeneration manager at Hampshire County Council, to discuss the opportunities for developers in her county.

Emily Dickson from Hampshire County Council

What are your responsibilities and duties at the council?

My role is to actively promote the economic opportunities in the region, both locally and to a wider audience. It is fair to say that my role is a flexible one, in that I support local authorities with major regeneration projects, helping to deliver key sites through project management support, co-ordinating the different elements from the delivery of the infrastructure to securing a lead developer. A vital part of the role is engaging with the private sector to help secure new premises and land and promoting our key sites to support economic growth in the region.

If an investor or developer is looking to develop sites in Hampshire, what types of sites are available?

The county council has developed a comprehensive portfolio of key commercial sites that are available for development, many with planning permission in place for a variety of uses. The key sites we are promoting on behalf of the landowners and agents are 15,000sq ft and above. We also have a list of sites that can be used for residential development in Hampshire and Surrey as well as the M3 corridor. Our list also includes details of opportunities around the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton in the Solent. The list will soon be made available on the Sitematch website. Hampshire is fortunate to have some large development sites that are capable of delivering thousands of new homes and commercial development, such as the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus and the Welborne scheme in North Fareham, set to deliver up to 6,000 new homes.

Why should an investor or developer invest in Hampshire?

The regeneration potential of the two cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, supported by the shared City Deal will bring in millions of pounds of investment. The Solent LEP and the Enterprise M3 combined will be investing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Hampshire region over the medium term. Many of Hampshire’s towns are within an hours’ train journey to London Waterloo, and Basingstoke and Farnborough are around 30 to 40 minutes away. The quality of life in Hampshire is fabulous, with many CEOs relocating their families and businesses to Hampshire, which boasts the New Forest, the historic city of Winchester, with its fantastic state and private schools (Winchester College) and Winchester Cathedral; easy access to the beaches, including the Isle of Wight; quick access to the south west (Dorset, Devon and Cornwall), yet still within an hours’ commute to London. Major company presence in Hampshire includes B&Q, Zurich, IBM UK and Estee Lauder UK.

What is Hampshire doing to make the borough more attractive to investors/developers?

We are helping to promote stronger sector propositions to potential occupiers, to take the offer beyond the real estate dimension to encompass talent, innovation, sector networks and other factors which influence business investment decisions. In addition, both the public and private sectors are investing in key infrastructure to make major sites viable for development and supporting high profile schemes that will help to secure further interest in the region. Hampshire County Council has helped to secure a site in Portsmouth with planning permission for the Ben Ainslie team’s campaign to host the America’s Cup in the UK and developers such as Hammerson are helping to extend the retail and leisure in Southampton with their latest Watermark Quay development. Private investment is being generated in Ocean Village and will include a new five star hotel.  

Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? Are there any specific sites that will be marketed soon?

The main regeneration project that I am involved in is the Solent Enterprise Zone on the south coast, which has had an injection of over £40 million of public investment into new infrastructure. The site is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, who will be marketing the ‘Waterfront’ in the summer 2014, which is a fantastic opportunity for a developer for a largely commercial, mixed-use site which is positioned next to the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent: (www.solentez.co.uk).

Muse is developing new commercial space in Basingstoke and has recently secured John Lewis at Home and Waitrose is also developing a large leisure park.  Other opportunities are Dunsbury Hill Farm in Havant, owned by Portsmouth City Council, which has outline planning permission that can accommodate B1, B2 and B8 and Whitehill and Bordon in east Hampshire and Welborne in north Fareham are potentially huge regeneration schemes for both employment, housing and community infrastructure.

Is Hampshire looking to promote specific development types?

Within my role I am promoting sites for commercial uses to help to secure sites for employment use or mixed-use schemes. However there are some key opportunities for residential development across Hampshire and we are also keen to support both marine and aerospace growth in the county, to reflect both the existing skills set and exploit the Solent location with Farnborough International Airport and Southampton Airport. 

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