HC Deb 01 April 2004 vol 419 cc1597-8W
Mr. Hoban

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what analysis underpinned the creation of a priority area for economic regeneration between Portsmouth and Southampton; what the objectives were of establishing this scheme; and to what extent these objectives have been achieved. [165316]

Jacqui Smith

The South Hampshire Priority Area for Economic Regeneration is broadly defined in Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9 2001). The area was originally proposed by SERPLAN (the South East Regional Planning Body in 2001) in their draft RPG, and was confirmed by the Panel following a Public Examination in 1999. The report of the panel provides further justification for the designation, but criteria included: above average unemployment levels, high levels of social deprivation, low skill levels, dependence on declining industries, derelict urban fabric, peripherally and insularity.

Within the South East Regional Planning Guidance the recommendation was that all the areas identified as Priority Areas for Economic Regeneration (PAERs) need tailored regeneration strategies backed up by appropriate resources to address their problems and maximise their contribution to the sustainable development of the region. Designation as a PAER signalled to regional partners, including the Regional Development Agency, that the needs of the area should be given high priority. As such, the South Hampshire Priority Area for Economic Regeneration is not a scheme. The objectives for the area are set out in RPG 9(2001),in particular Policy RE7 and Chapter 12. The policy calls for local and regional partners to give particular attention to actively supporting economic regeneration and renewal, including inward investment.

In line with the signals given through designation of the area as a PAER, regional partners, including the South East England Regional Development Agency (SEEDA), have given the area a high priority.

The Regional Assembly, in partnership with local authorities, is currently assessing whether a sub-regional strategy for the South Hampshire area should be prepared as part of the South East Plan.