Southampton, the economic powerhouse of England’s south coast, is a city undergoing an ambitious regeneration. From the rejuvenation of the Leisure World site – one of the most significant redevelopments the city has seen in a long time – to the proposed extension of Southampton Airport’s runway and the chancellor’s recent go-ahead for the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s freeport bid, this coastal community is on the cusp of a renaissance.

With a unique opportunity to become a thriving destination port city, now is the time for Southampton to level up, band together and support future growth. But to do that collaboration between the public and private sector will be required across the city like never before. So, what would this look like?

• With mixed reviews on the benefits of freeports, what impact is this already having on the city?

• With plans for a fifth cruise terminal, what pressure will this put on the infrastructure of the city centre?

• What does Southampton need as part of the levelling up agenda and what role does real estate play in that?


Grace Mitchell, associate, Shoosmiths

Mitchell is an associate in Shoosmiths’ planning and environment team, based in the firm’s Solent office. She has experience of acting for both public and private sectors, including local authorities, landowners and developers, and acts on a wide range of planning and highways matters, including the drafting and negotiation of section 106 agreements, CPO matters and various infrastructure agreements, as well as on aspects of environmental law.

Mehar Patel, partner, Shoosmiths

Patel is a real estate partner, based in Shoosmiths’ Solent office. He specialises in real estate finance, development and portfolio management and has wide experience of dealing with large-scale real estate financings across multiple property portfolios, acting for banks, non-bank lenders, mezzanine lenders and borrowers. Patel also has experience across a broad spectrum of real estate assets, acting for developers, local authorities, landlords and tenants, and of investment acquisitions and disposals for funds.

Chair: Tim Burke, deputy editor, EG

Burke joined EG as deputy editor in July 2019, before which he was property editor at Financial News, a Dow Jones publication. Earlier in his career he wrote for and edited magazines covering capital markets and businesses across developed and emerging economies, including titles at The Economist Group and Thomson Reuters.

Daniel Fitzhenry, leader, Southampton City Council

Fitzhenry was first elected to Southampton City Council in 2008 representing Harefield Ward. He serves as a board director on the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and is a strategic board member for freeports working alongside the cabinet member for growth.

Martin Hastelow, head of commercial agency, Savills

Hastelow joined Savills in 2003 to head up its commercial agency team when the firm opened its Southampton office. He has advised on some of the largest speculative office developments in the city, including Liberty House (now Quilter Point), Charlotte Place and the Ocean Village Innovation Centre. He has also advised on the sale of a number of office buildings for conversion to residential, including Telephone House and currently Dukes Keep. Hastelow has also worked on the sale of the Marine Employment Quarter at Centenary Quay, major out of town lettings and acquisitions and on sites within the proposed Solent Freeport.

Nickie Butt MPhil, lecturer, Solent University

Butt qualified as a navigation officer and, after leaving the sea, lived overseas in a variety of shore-based shipping roles. After returning to the UK and obtaining a degree Butt became a lecturer at Solent and also completed an MPhil. Research interests include protection of the marine environment from the impact of shipping, sustainability of the shipping industry, port and terminal operations and management. This entails both the wet and dry sides of the shipping world and accounting for the interests and views of the many stakeholders involved.

Gavin Hall, head of office and planning, Savills

Hall joined Savills in 2003 from Southampton City Council, where he worked in the regeneration and design teams. Hall has worked on the regeneration of Ocean Village and wider developments at the site to help deliver an enhanced waterfront. He has also overseen the planning of Centenary Quay in Woolston since 2009 and, more recently, improvements to the Red Funnel marshalling yards at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight and the planning application for the extension to the runway at Southampton International Airport. Hall is also the lead consultant on behalf of Portsmouth City Council for the proposals at Tipner West, sits on the planning and transport committee of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, and is a business member representative on the Solent LEP.

The Future of Southampton

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