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South Hams District Council: Plymouth and South Devon Freeport

Category: Place
Published: 27 February 2023

South Hams District Council: Plymouth and South Devon Freeport

The project

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is a £300 million public / private partnership, investment and business stimulus package.  Unique in its offer nationally; leveraging allocated but undeveloped land across three sites to unlock strategic development, secure inward investment and promote growth aligned to the Joint Local Plan.  Its innovation catalyst being the collaboration between South Hams District Council, Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to reach at pace, strategic alignment, political consensus, and funding commitment predicated on borrowing and a culture of equitable support and challenge.  The Freeport opportunity – £25 million of government seed funding & business stimulus incentives – and that value that could bring to the South West, could not be seized by any one local authority, and the private sector / port operators were also not in that space.

Only by looking regionally, beyond the obvious port of Plymouth and the wider city, could the scale, opportunity and conditions for the Freeport be met.  The strength of relationship and partnership working already established between the three authorities, through the Joint Local Plan and other initiatives, meant that this tenacious economic development programme could be genuinely considered within the short bid timelines.  This inter-council working is both innovative and genuine, and an example of how we can all serve our residents better through collaboration.

The district council has created a partnership of equals, strong public / private sector governance and political unity across boundaries.  In summary, it comprises three councils, five landowners, £300 million of investment and one vision.  That vision?  A low carbon, innovation led growth plan, delivering 3,500 jobs to the region, facilitated by infrastructure development by the Public Sector.

The benefits

The most tangible short-term benefit, following the announcement of Plymouth and South Devon Freeport in the first round of Government sign off, is the £25 million seed funding.  With the ground prepared, vision and delivery plan signed off, governance in place and the funding tap turned on, the economic development can commence.

Ultimately this public sector innovative collaboration will deliver a regional impact and create the conditions needed for import and export businesses to thrive, high value jobs to be supported, boosting the UK economy.


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