Sedgemoor District Council Leader Duncan McGinty officially welcomed the team from Gravity to the District as work started on the road that unlocks development of the 635-acre Enterprise Zone on the former Royal Ordnance Factory site outside Bridgwater.
Representatives from Gravity – the name for the Innovation Campus that will be built on the site – were joined by the owner, developer and operator Salamanca Group; Sedgemoor councillors and officers, members of the Heart of the South West LEP and several local partners and stakeholders, including representatives from neighbouring villages of Puriton and Woolavington for a ceremony to mark the start of work by Alun Griffiths on the road linking the site to the A39.
Costing £10.3m, the road is part funded (£3.94m) by a grant from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Fund Deal with the remainder contributed by Gravity. It will enable on-site construction to start in Summer 2020 and create a 635 acre Innovation and Clean Growth Campus which is anticipated to generate 4000 jobs
Gravity’s Enterprise Zone status means that businesses locating here will be eligible for various incentives including simplified planning and reduction in business rates for up to 5 years. All business rates generated from site will be retained locally to invest further in the area boosting local economy and prosperity.
With flexible and shared facilities, a low carbon infrastructure and excellent working environment, Gravity will continue to evolve and support local, regional and national industrial strategies.
Cllr McGinty told Gravity and its guests that he was certain the site would attract international companies, further raising the profile of the District and helping transform it into a higher value economy and creating thousands of job opportunities.
“We are especially delighted to see this important industrial site between the villages of Puriton and Woolavington being brought back into use and we will work closely with Gravity and those villages to support them as sustainable communities.”
Martin Bellamy, CEO of Gravity, said,
“We’re delighted to commence groundwork on the access road as it marks a significant milestone on our journey to deliver the site. As a new business to the area, we are thrilled to have such positive support from the LEP and the Growth Deal fund contribution, as well as the dedicated support and enthusiasm from Sedgemoor District Council.”
Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, commented,
“The LEP is delighted to support this project with investment from its Growth Deal with Government that partly funds 60 projects across Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to generate jobs and growth in the economy.”
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, commented,
“We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future. Improving transport links and infrastructure is key to unlocking local growth. This is why I am delighted that our £3.94 million Local Growth Fund investment towards the new link road will not only help to improve access to leisure facilities for the enjoyment of local residents, but generate thousands of jobs and provide an attractive place for new businesses to Bridgwater and the surrounding local area making it a centre for Clean Growth.”
Gravity is part of the Heart of the South West’s multi-site Enterprise Zones offering economic opportunities in the area’s key sectors – this site targeting Clean Growth.
These Enterprise Zones – with other sites at Exeter and East Devon and Oceansgate in Plymouth – enable the local areas to retain a greater share of business rates to re-invest and attract new jobs and growth.
“We’re looking forward to working with Gravity to generate investment in the region and develop the growing cluster of innovative companies and Clean Growth talent to raise the productivity and profile of our area and the wider Great South West region on an international platform.”
The road construction will take 18 months to complete and will open the site for development.