Solent Freeport: securing decades of economic growth for the New Forest

3 April 2024 A report to our Cabinet (3 April 2024) has defined key areas of opportunity for the area from the Solent Freeport. Freeports are special areas within the UK's borders where different economic regulations apply.

The Solent Freeport is one of 8 UK freeports designated by the government following a bidding process. We are members of the Solent Freeport Board. Freeport tax sites give businesses operating within them access to certain tax benefits including enhanced capital allowances and stamp duty relief.

One key benefit of the Freeport is the retention and reinvestment of business rates above a base level on tax sites for a period of 25 years from Freeport designation. The majority of land which makes up the Solent Freeport tax sites is within the New Forest district. It is vital that we make a strong case to realise local benefit from the reinvestment of retained business rates, forecast to be in excess of GBP500m over the 25 years of the Freeport.

Our Cabinet heard proposals for how retained business rates could be re-invested in the region by setting five key priorities for the area from the Freeport: Transport and infrastructure: Investing in essential transportation networks and infrastructure upgrades to facilitate seamless connectivity and spur economic activity. Employment and skills: Fostering a skilled workforce by providing training opportunities and pathways to employment, ensuring that local talent drives the region's prosperity.

Prosperous communities: Promoting inclusive growth that benefits all residents, enhancing the quality of life and vitality of local neighbourhoods. Environmental sustainability: Prioritising sustainable practices and initiatives to safeguard the natural beauty of the New Forest and mitigate environmental impacts. Development of a Local Delivery Plan: Crafting a comprehensive plan to guide the utilisation of retained business rates and other resources, ensuring that investments align with the district's unique needs and aspirations.

With a focus on these key priorities, we aim to leverage the Solent Freeport to drive economic growth effectively. Cllr Derek Tipp, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economy, is enthusiastic about the prospects: "The Solent Freeport heralds a new era of opportunity for the New Forest, poised to generate thousands of jobs, substantial business rates, and commercial land development.

By leveraging these resources effectively, the district aims to generate growth, drive innovation, and create a legacy of prosperity for generations to come."[1]

Solent Freeport - Groundbreaking event March 2024

Solent Freeport - Groundbreaking event March 2024 More information:

Image from groundbreaking event March 2024, Richard Parkinson, Port Director, ABP Solent Gateway, Julian Lewis MP, Alastair Welsh, Regional Director, ABP. Tax sites within the New Forest are at the former Fawley Power Station, Exxon Mobil, ABP's Strategic Land Reserve, and Marchwood Port (Solent Gateway) making up the Southampton. Waterside tax site, along with one additional site outside of the District boundary in Redbridge.

In the Freeport Business Cases, these sites are forecast to contribute 7,000 of 16,000 new jobs (44%), GBP290m of GBP511m retained business rates (57%) and 303 ha of 430ha of developable land (70%) Decisions in relation to the Freeport are made by the Solent Freeport Board. The Leader of New Forest District Council is a Board Member of the Freeport.

A sub committee of the Freeport Board, the Finance, Resources and Audit Committee, considers issues around finance and governance. The Leader is also a Member of that Committee. Finally, the Retained Rates Investment Committee considers recommendations on the use of retained business rates.

The S151 Officer of New Forest District Council sits on the sub committee.

Report: CABINET: 7 MAY 2008 ([2]

More news[3]


  1. ^ (
  2. ^ Report: CABINET: 7 MAY 2008 ( (
  3. ^ More news (