9 November 2023
The historic Royal Navy base at HMS Daedalus – adjacent to Solent Airport – is to be redeveloped under plans approved by Gosport Borough Council.
The project is called Daedalus Waterfront. It will be a 42-acre mixed use development with the original barracks to be restored and converted into housing, new industrial and commercial units and public spaces. The Hovercraft Museum, home to the largest collection of hovercraft in the world, will be ‘reinvented to become a world-class visitor attraction’.
It’s 27 years since HMS Daedalus closed and the site has become dilapidated. Several plans to regenerate the site have come and gone, but Gosport council seems convinced this will go ahead.
Councillor Peter Chegwyn, Leader of Gosport Borough Council, said, “This is great news for the Gosport area. The Daedalus development will provide much-needed new housing and jobs, and also has the benefit of saving several historic buildings and bringing them back into use after years of decay.”
HMS Daedalus was established as a seaplane base in 1917 during WW1, and went on to play an important role in WW2 as the busiest airfield during D-Day and as a base for the US Navy’s Spitfires. The site was the founding base of the Fleet Air Arm and was the home of UK Coastal Command.
In 1962 the Joint Service Hovercraft Unit was formed with the aim of testing hovercraft in an operational military environment, and the base was also the home of the Naval Air Engineering School.
The Daedalus masterplan includes restoration of the historic buildings, including the WWI hangars that face the Solent.
David Twohig, CEO of Daedalus Development Company, said, “This approval marks a significant milestone for Daedalus Waterfront, one that will ensure the site’s future while bringing the energy and buzz back to Daedalus.”