Somerset celebrates Growth Deal boost

Somerset County Council today welcomed news of millions of pounds of Government investment in employment, transport and connectivity schemes in the county.

Projects in line for funding from the Growth Deal include an upgrade of Junction 25 off the M5 at Taunton and further funding for phase three of developing the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre in Bridgwater.

Other projects will include the continued rollout of superfast broadband throughout Somerset, and investment in the Unlocking Growth Fund, which could include a new enterprise centre in Wiveliscombe.*

The funding for Somerset is part of an extra £65.2 million of funding to boost the South West economy, and adds to £130.3m of funding committed by the Government in July 2014. It will be allocated by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP).

Investment in the upgrade of Junction 25 will help unlock a proposed employment site with the potential to provide up to 4,000 jobs, while the funding for phase three of Bridgwater’s Somerset Energy Innovation Centre could help deliver 170 jobs.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said: “Our county is seeing a huge amount of investment at the moment and this is further evidence that the future is bright for Somerset.

“The Junction 25 scheme is another massive boost following the recent A358/A303 announcement and will further improve connectivity as well as unlocking the growth potential of the site, creating business opportunities and providing up to 4,000 jobs.

“I’m also pleased to see continued investment into superfast broadband and enterprise centres supporting small businesses. Growing our economy is a top priority and I’m sure the Somerset business community will join me in celebrating this welcome news.”

Here is what the announcement means for Somerset:

  • Major junction improvements to the M5 Junction 25 at Taunton. This will include access to a proposed strategic employment site and will link with the A358 Henlade bypass.
  • Further funding for a Somerset Energy Innovation Centre (supporting Hinkley Point C) in Bridgwater. This top-up will help deliver 170 jobs and 2,000 sq m of conferencing, meeting and additional collaborative innovation space.
  • Superfast broadband: Tackling the next 5 per cent of premises in hard to reach areas to give universal superfast broadband coverage.
  • An Unlocking Growth Fund to invest in infrastructure required to bring forward strategic employment sites at key locations. The Fund will give the LEP a flexible local programme to invest in projects across the area. Examples of schemes likely to be put forward include a new enterprise centre in Wiveliscombe.