PROPOSALS that could have injected over £300million into the local economy and created 6,000 new jobs in Weymouth and Portland have fallen by the wayside. 

Councillor Tony Ferrari, portfolio holder for economic growth, assets and property, said the local authority would continue to work with the Government ‘to bring investment to the county’ but that he understood investment zones would not now be going forward.

He said the council’s bid would ‘fall away’ with a Government spokesperson confirming investment zones had been ‘refocused’. 

As reported, Dorset Council submitted proposals for three investment zones - in Weymouth, Portland, and Wool - which, if approved, were expected to deliver nearly 6,000 new jobs as well as 350 new houses and apartments.

Weymouth’s investment zone would have seen disused sites redeveloped to provide 193 new dwellings in a 'leisure focused development' with economic modelling suggesting a boost of £273.7million to the local economy.

Proposals in Portland were focussed on the port with one residential site in Castletown. The residential site would provide 157 new apartments with 46,000 square metres of new commercial space, 1,200 jobs and a £58million economic boost all anticipated as part of the proposals.

Councillor Tony Ferrari, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Assets and Property, said: “Dorset Council seeks every opportunity to work with the Government to bring investment to the county. We are often successful with our bids into Government initiatives; recently we have received £6m from the Shared Prosperity fund, before that £19m for decarbonisation of our buildings.

 “We understand that the government is now taking a different approach with investment zones, as announced last November, and that expressions of interest previously submitted by councils will not be taken forward. This bid will therefore fall away. 

“The Autumn Statement also referred to Levelling Up, confirming that the round 2 Levelling Up fund of £1.7bn will be maintained. Dorset Council submitted an application in this round and we wait to hear the outcome, which we understand will be given soon.”

A Government spokesperson said: “As the Government previously announced, we are refocusing Investment Zones so we can maximise their impact to boost levelling up, productivity and job creation.

 “We will work with Mayors, Devolved Administrations and councils to leverage expertise of research institutions in areas that have been left behind.

 “The information gathered from councils has been invaluable and is helping to inform the new investment zones programme. We are grateful for all their efforts to support their local communities.”