31 October 2014

Innovative investment in Bridgwater off to an impressive start

A new £6 million pound development in Bridgwater set to maximise opportunities from the development of Hinkley Point C and bring hundreds of jobs to Somerset was celebrated in a special ceremony today (October 31).

Phase 1 of Somerset County Council's Low Carbon Energy Innovation and Collaboration Centre, based at Woodlands Court, Bridgwater, will provide 2,400 square metres of flexible office space, meeting rooms and a networking café. 

The project has been funded by Somerset County Council with over £3 million from the European Regional Development Fund Programme (2007 to 2013).

The centre will support the start-up and growth of businesses in Somerset and the South West. It will encourage collaborative working between suppliers to enable local businesses to access opportunities in the Hinkley C supply chain and wider national and international nuclear and low carbon energy sectors.  Businesses will also be able to access a package of business support to meet their development needs.

Local children, partners and councillors gathered for the ceremony this morning, which saw a ceremonial bolt being tightened in the absence of any turf. The children, from Eastover Primary School, have worked with Art students from Bridgwater College to paint some of the hoardings surrounding the site.

Students from Bridgwater College's Construction Skills and Learning Centre will visit the site regularly during construction to experience a building site in action.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council's Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said "This project is a significant investment in Somerset and will maximise the economic growth and job opportunities set to reach the area thanks to the proposed Hinkley Point C development. We are now in the early stages of construction and I am delighted to see the progress made already."

Colin Skellett, the deputy chairman of the Local Management Committee which steers the South West Competitiveness European Regional Development Fund Programme, said: "The investment in the Low Carbon Energy Innovation and Collaboration Centre will help partners in the Heart of the South West to drive forward their ambition to be at the forefront of creating an expert and knowledge-intensive nuclear supply chain in the UK, providing businesses with new opportunities for growth."

Bristol-based firm Midas Construction, one of the largest independent construction companies in the South West, won the contract to build the centre to the highest possible eco-friendly standards to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent' rating. Work is due to complete in June 2015.

Phil Barter, Operational Manager for Midas Construction, said: "This is a fantastic development for Somerset, and we are delighted to be working closely with our partners at Somerset County Council on ensuring the new innovation centre is built to the highest possible standards, with especially strong green credentials, to provide a quality, sustainable facility for generations to benefit from."

"This £7 million development is one of the first clear examples of investment linked to the Hinkley Point C project, says Andrew Maynard, partner at Alder King which acted for the landowner Roselea Properties.  "Now that the scheme has been given EU consent, we expect to see further significant investment in the local and regional economy and increased demand from businesses for quality industrial/logistics property in the area."

Image caption: (L-R) Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council with Phil Barter, Operational Manager for Midas Construction.

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