A £24m high five for economic growth

Somerset will benefit from around £24m of Government funding for five key projects to boost employment and economic growth.

Today’s Growth Deal funding announcement from Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy allocated £43.5m to the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), in which Somerset County Council is a key partner.

It means around £24m of support for the following projects in Somerset as well as others that benefit the LEP area as a whole.

  • Somerset Energy Innovation Centre phase 3 in Bridgwater – £2.7m to develop a further 2,000 sqm of office, meeting and collaborative space for local businesses.
  • Connecting Devon and Somerset Phase 2 – £7.5m to deliver superfast broadband to more properties to increase coverage to 100 per cent by 2020.
  • iAero project in Yeovil – £3.75m to construct an aerospace innovation and collaboration space to support business growth and create higher level jobs.
  • Toneway Corridor capacity improvements (Phase 1 Creech Castle) in Taunton – £6.3m to make enhancements to the road between the M5 and Taunton town centre to support growth in the town.
  • Huntspill Energy Park in Bridgwater – £3.9m to open up a 91 hectare enterprise zone with new highway link and roundabout to support business growth, potentially including the Hinkley supply chain.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said: “It is extremely positive and encouraging that we have secured this funding to support economic growth in key areas in the county.

“A prospering local economy is vital to Somerset’s future and all of these projects will open up opportunities for growth, employment and more investment.

“We have a strong economy and it’s important that as a County Council we play our part in looking ahead and making sure it goes from strength to strength.”

Somerset’s £24m is part of a £43.57m package for the HotSW LEP area. Together with match-funding of £115.92 from the public and private sector it means new investment totalling £159.49 million.

Councillor David Fothergill, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Investment in our roads is absolutely essential to enable local businesses to grow and be successful. I am thrilled that we have been able to secure the funding to enhance the road infrastructure to improve access to Taunton and unlock the Huntspill Energy Park in Bridgwater. Better infrastructure equals more growth for our economy.”

This announcement follows on from the successful Growth Deal rounds 1 and 2 which previously secured £195.5m of Government investment from for the HotSW LEP area.

Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: “We can and will deliver transformational growth in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – with the right level of backing from government to create the right conditions and remove the barriers to poor productivity, including improved connectivity and investment in skills.

“This latest round of Growth Deal funding helps us to achieve the step change that we aspire to, and we look forward to putting these ten new schemes into place that will help us raise productivity for the area and generate rewarding careers for the people of the Heart of the South West.

The Heart of the South West LEP is a business-led partnership of four County and Unitary Authorities, 15 District Authorities, four Universities and ten Further Education colleges across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. Its purpose is to lead and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West area covering Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.