Multi-million pound boost to key Somerset projects

Key Somerset projects are a step closer after a government multi-million investment boost.

A Digital Innovation Centre for Taunton, improved access to Firepool and Taunton railway station along with Bruton Enterprise Centre and iAero in Yeovil have all been selected to go through to the next stage to gain funding from a £900m government pot.

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership announced 12 projects across the South West in line to receive a share of the £35.4m it received from the £900m central government fund.

Business cases will now be made to support the £5.5m bid for the proposed Digital Innovation Centre on the Firepool site along with the £400,000 for Firepool and Taunton Station access.

The Digital Innovation Centre in Taunton’s Firepool will provide flexible, high-quality collaboration space and support services targeted at new-start and existing businesses in, or moving into, the digital economy.

Funding announced for the road access will also help unlock Firepool’s commercial and residential opportunities and linked employment benefits.

Bruton Enterprise Centre and iAero, the aerospace innovation centre under construction in Yeovil, are both in line for a share of £8.7m allocated to work hubs and fit-out programmes in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

In Bruton, the business case will highlight the need for local opportunities for small companies to set up and expand in an area where there are few if any alternatives for businesses. The funding would allow for some light industrial space to be provided alongside.

And in Yeovil, the iAero project is already under way with significant finances delivered by Somerset County Council and its partners. If the bid is successful, funding will go towards the costs of fitting out the centre designed to encourage innovation, collaboration and growth in the aerospace sector and supply chain, ensuring it remains competitive in a fast-changing world.

The multi-million investment boost is welcomed by Somerset County Council and key partners who worked closely to submit bids for projects that support employment, regeneration, skills, innovation and clean energy.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure at Somerset County Council said: “This is great news – we have lobbied very hard for funding. If our bids are successful, all these schemes will help to unlock Somerset’s economic potential and growth, creating new job opportunities.

“We’re delighted that four Somerset projects have got through to the next crucial stage and work will now start on completing business cases by the end of August.”