BUSINESS chiefs in Hampshire have handed in their £2.8 billion blueprint for growth in the region.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) says the plan could create thousands of new jobs and lead to the creation of hundreds of new businesses in the region.

They want to work with the Government, councils and organisations and businesses to bring it to reality over the next six years.

Their plan includes the £953m City Deal, signed last year.

That featured a £7m grant to progress the creation of new leisure facilities at Watermark WestQuay in Southampton, as well as pots of money to boost apprenticeships and the creation of new Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

It also features the delivery of £73.6m of European Union and private and public sector funding to boost SMEs, develop a low carbon economy and invest in training.

And the LEP is seeking £305m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to go with £102m of local auth-ority cash and £1.43bn private sector funding for its Local Growth Deal.

LEP chiefs say the new deal would allow the Solent’s economy to compete on an international stage, and that 15,500 new jobs, 24,000 new homes and 1,000 new businesses could be created if it is realised.

As well as providing more training and promotion of the region abroad, it also contains a number of major developments.

They include the proposed Stubbington bypass, the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus, plans for 6,500 new homes at Welborne to the north of Fareham and funding to encourage maritime industry firms to settle in Itchen Riverside.

LEP chairman Gary Jeffries said: “We are developing an investment plan worth £2.8bn. We will bring forward a Local Growth Deal proposal with an ambitious plan which, if successful, will exceed growth targets.

Government Minister for Cities, Greg Clark, said: “The Growth Deal provides a fantastic opportunity for Solent LEP to seek freedoms, flexibilities and influence over resources from Government.”

Government ministers are due to make a decision on the plan this summer, and the first funds could be released for projects next year.