Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has supported Plymouth City Council to achieve two important milestones towards making the Plymouth and South Devon (PASD) Freeport a reality. The first is the establishment of the PASD Freeport Company (the governing body for the Freeport) and the second, the completion of agreements between the Freeport Company, the relevant rating authority and the owners of designated tax sites within the PASD Freeport.

The PASD Freeport is one of eight freeports which then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced as part of the 2021 budget. Freeports have been set up as hubs for global trade and investment across the UK. They include designated tax and customs sites which provide special benefits to the businesses which operate from them (including tax incentives, simplified customs arrangements and investment funding). They will also create the conditions to attract new local business, investment and innovation.

The vision for PASD Freeport is to supercharge the South West economy by building on the area's leading capabilities in marine, defence and space. The PASD Freeport Company has been established as a company limited by guarantee, with Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council and South Hams District Council as its founding members.

WBD's cross-disciplinary team provided initial advice in relation to the appropriate governance arrangements of the Freeport Company. In addition to this they delivered corporate advice in relation to the incorporation of the Freeport Company and drafting its constitutional documents, including the members agreement and articles of association. The team also provided guidance in relation to the drafting, negotiation and completion of the agreements with landowners.

The PASD Freeport will operate across three sites, South Yard and Sherford, which have recently been designated, and Langage, which is expected to be designated in the autumn. To achieve the PASD Freeport vision, businesses operating within this governance will now both contribute to, and benefit from, a focused centre of excellence and have access to the full benefits of a Freeport, boosting their growth and job opportunities in the region.