Somerset County Council has welcomed today’s news of the Government’s Local Growth Fund which will provide up to £36 million to fund projects across Somerset.
The cash will be used to improve infrastructure such as roads and roundabouts and prevent future flooding, as well as being invested in training and used to boost the county’s economy.
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) secured £130.3m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for the whole region. Somerset will receive £18.67m for 2015/16, with a further £5.44m proposed for 2016/17 and £11.9m for 2020/21.
Some of the projects to benefit include those associated with the new Hinkley Point C development. These include investment for Bridgwater College and the South West Low Carbon Energy Innovation and Collaboration Centre.
Transport links will also be improved, with significant investments to upgrade Taunton Railway Station and Huntworth Roundabout.
The announcement also confirms £13m of funding for work to reduce the risk and severity of flooding by increasing the capacity of Somerset’s rivers, such as the Sowy.
Further cash will go towards Somerset College (£1m), Yeovil’s Western Corridor scheme, and housing developments in Highbridge (£4m) and Frome (£2.5m). Somerset will also benefit from a major investment (£2.5m) in mobile 4G connectivity across the South West.
Cllr David Hall, Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy at Somerset County Council and LEP Board Member for Somerset, said: “This is fantastic news for the region and for Somerset. Millions of pounds will be directly invested in our county over the next two financial years leading to more jobs, a better skilled workforce, economic growth, new housing developments, flood prevention and improved roads and infrastructure.
“Additional money has also been set aside to fund key Somerset projects up to 2020/21. We’ve campaigned hard for these Local Growth Funds working with The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and I’m delighted it’s paid off.”
Breakdown of funding:
Hinkley Point C:
Funding for investments in skills, innovation and infrastructure to deliver the construction of HPC and support supply chain, including:
- Bridgwater College: £5.02m in 2015/16
- Hinkley Point Training Agency: £3m in 2015/16, with an additional indicative allocation of £3.5m in 2016/17
- South West Low Carbon Energy Innovation and Collaboration project: £2m in 2015/16, with an additional indicative allocation of £1.94m in 2016/17
- Huntworth Roundabout: £1.9m in 2015/16
- Taunton Railway Station: £2.2m in 2015/16 with an additional indicative allocation of £2.4m up to 2020/21
The Government has committed to more proactive engagement from the Highways Agency and Network Rail with the LEP. This includes work with those organisations and the Environment Agency, advised by Infrastructure UK, to design ‘whole problem, holistic solutions to protect people, property and critical rail infrastructure’. Specific projects in Somerset will include:
- Yeovil: Western Corridor improvement scheme (funding not detailed)
- River Sowy: £3.55m to widen the river channel in 2015/16 with an additional indicative allocation of £9.5m up to 2020/21
- Housing developments: Loan funding, subject to due diligence, through the Local Infrastructure Fund to unlock sites for housing development at Brue Farm in Highbridge (£4m) and Southfield Farm in Frome (£2.5m)
- Mobile 4G connectivity: £1.25m in 2015/16, for the whole LEP area, with an additional indicative allocation of £1.25m in 2016/17, to improve connectivity in key cold-spot areas
The Government will work with the Skills Funding Agency to give the LEP more information on, and influence over, the skills provision in the area.
- Somerset College: £1m investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills.