South Hampshire is home to almost one million people and is the largest urbanised area in the south of England outside London. At its two ‘poles’ are the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, whose spheres of influence encompass the substantial towns and settlements of Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport and Havant. So a large part of the PUSH area is taken up with urban and suburban development.
Growth has occurred on a massive scale over the last forty years, creating a complex urban area focused on the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton with a series of adjacent complementary settlements, which now form an almost continuous spread of loose knit suburban development adjacent to the Solent coastline. Portsmouth has a continuing tradition as a major Naval Base and this is complemented by Southampton’s commercial role as a container port and cruise terminal.
Despite the importance of the two cities as centres for employment, business, retail, leisure, culture and learning, each of the towns making up urban South Hampshire has its own distinct character and identity. These are attributes we aim to maintain and enhance through the means by which development and growth is managed and in terms of what each place has to offer individually and as part of a larger sub-region.
South Hampshire has world class higher education institutions and excellent transport links by air, road, rail and sea. Historically it has been England's sea gateway to the continent, the Americas and beyond and it still plays this role today.
South Hampshire has an environment that is the envy of other parts of England, with easy access to rural hinterlands and miles of beautiful coastline. The sub-region boasts significant areas of open space of landscape and recreational importance; there are wildlife sites and habitats of both national and international significance – Special Areas of Conservation, Specially Protected Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and more. The New Forest National Park and the South Downs define a substantial part of the inland boundary to PUSH, with the Solent and various harbours – notably Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester Harbours – creating the coastal boundary.