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Southampton bid to attract Ainslie (if Portsmouth should fall through)

June 16, 2014 by Tez

A meeting set to take place at Portsmouth City Cathedral tomorrow to discuss how Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie can bring his America’s Cup Sailing Team to the city is still due to go ahead. A number of objections from residents have cropped up regarding the site in Old Portsmouth and this is a chance to get concerns out into the open.

In a last ditch attempt Southampton City Council has contacted Ainslie to remind him of the fact they already have planning permission in place, at the former Vosper Thornycroft site, Centenary Quay, for a boating facility.

If it went ahead the base would be used to train Britain’s team to win the America’s Cup in 2017 – a feat not achieved in the competition’s 150 year history. In addition the facility would create 1000 new jobs and inject a £44m investment into the local economy.

Portsmouth has been chosen by the legendary sailor off the back of its maritime heritage and ferry port footfall – something which is guaranteed.

To date there have been 71 objections to the plans with many residents feeling the proposal has been railroaded through. An initial meeting was to be held last Monday but was rescheduled in light the amount of people looking to attend.

Labour council leader for Southampton, Simon Letts, has written to Sir Ben reminding the sailor that their site is ready and waiting. He said: ‘First of all it’s really good news that Sir Ben is to launch the first serious British America’s Cup bid for some years and we stand ready to support the bid in any way we can. We have a site available at Woolston with planning permission, cleared and ready for use which Sir Ben and his team would be welcome to develop at their convenience. This is a bid of national, if not international importance, and if the site in Portsmouth is not deliverable then it’s important this project remains in the Solent rather than going abroad.’

Portsmouth City Council planning committee members are being recommended to approve plans but Donna Jones said: ‘Everyone’s views must be taken into account.’

Ainslie has said he would consider the Southampton site if his bid for Portsmouth should fall through.

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