Representatives from Gravity, Sedgemoor District Council, Heart of the South West LEP and appointed contractors, Alun Griffiths, turned the first soil to mark the start of the works at the former Royal Ordnance Factory site near Bridgwater.
The link road will connect the site directly to the M5 at junction 23. With a total build cost of £10.3 million, it is funded by a £3.94 million grant from the Heart of the South West LEP Growth Deal Fund as well as a £6.39 million contribution from Gravity.
Gravity is the first real estate private company to receive Growth Deal funding for transport infrastructure which is expected to generate 4,000 jobs on the 635-acre site. Construction of the road will start in July 2019 with completion in Autumn 2020, enabling occupational construction to commence.
Gravity’s vision to deliver the UK’s leading innovation campus underpinned by Clean Growth supports local, regional and national industrial strategies. It will provide flexible and shared physical facilities, on-site low carbon energy generation, a sought-after working environment, fiscal benefits from its Enterprise Zone status and an ideal environment for public-private and private-private partnerships.
At full capacity, the mixed-use innovation campus will be home to 150 high-value businesses across low carbon energy generation, manufacturing, electric vehicles, robotics, AI, data centres, assembly and R&D. It will also provide leisure facilities and amenities accessible to employees and the local community.
Facilitated by the M5 growth corridor, Gravity has a large catchment area from Exeter to the Bristol and Bath city regions and is able to leverage a highly qualified regional talent pool in Clean Growth and innovation.
Martin Bellamy, CEO of Gravity and it’s parent company Salamanca Group, said: “We’re delighted to commence construction of 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.
“Gravity’s ambition is a wider opportunity for the Bristol – Exeter growth corridor and we look forward to working together to position the South West as a dynamic heart of Clean Growth in the UK.”
Councillor Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, said: “Today is a critical milestone enabling the realisation of Gravity and its ambition to offer a unique economic asset at the heart of the South West.
“We’re delighted that the site will once again be an employment hub, providing jobs in the region and helping to transform our economy into a higher value knowledge economy.
“Sedgemoor’s strong economic track record shows that we can confidently host local and regional business growth. Paired with Gravity’s vision to attract inward investment, this is a major opportunity to take our economic growth to the international level.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “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.
“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. This will raise the productivity and profile of our area and the wider Great South West region on an international platform.”
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, added: “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.”