Science Park, Cranbrook. Photo credit: Still Imaging

Autumn Statement provides good news

East Devon District Council and Sedgemoor District Councils are celebrating following George Osborne’s announcement that their joint bid for enterprise zone status  was approved. 

The enterprise zone bid, which was approved last week (Wednesday 25 November 2015) as part of the Autumn Statement, comprises of five sites across two locations in the Heart of the South West (HotSW),  4 in East Devon and 1 near Bridgwater in Sedgemoor.

The Enterprise Zone combines the South West’s largest brownfield site at Huntspill Energy Park near Bridgwater with the innovation led offer of Exeter Science Park, the low carbon credentials of SkyPark, expansion space for the successful Exeter Airport business park and the development of the new community of Cranbrook as a small enterprise town, all linked by the M5 corridor.

The benefits of enterprise zones include the local area being able to keep 100% of the growth in business rates over 25 years, to re-invest in infrastructure and growth generating projects. Companies are attracted to enterprise zones by the offer of discounted business rates, a simplified planning regime and the opportunity to work with other businesses and initiatives already established in the allocated zone.

The bid was also complementary to the existing Enterprise Zone in Plymouth, and aims to create a chain of high value hub locations across the HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Area.

The successful bid focussed on bringing together this aligned package of sites at the centre of the South West region, in what is described as a ‘genuine opportunity to maximise industrial synergies across the LEP area’ particularly within the rapidly growing environment technologies and energy sectors.

The bid was prepared by the East Devon District Council and Sedgemoor District Council in partnership with Devon and Somerset County Councils and represents months of work in partnership with the LEP in order to meet criteria set by Government.

The Leader of East Devon District Council, Councillor Paul Diviani and Chief Executive Mark Williams were at House of Commons when the announcement was made.

Councillor Diviani said:

We are over the moon to be awarded Enterprise Zone status as important recognition of East Devon’s strategy for growth with the potential to provide 10,000 jobs and 18,000 homes in East Devon.

We welcome the chance to work in partnership with Devon, Somerset and Sedgemoor Councils, to bring improved efficiency as the way forward for the future. The partnership will gain by sharing expertise and resources, and benefit from shared campaigns for inward investment and supply chain opportunities, as well as providing business support encouraging businesses to locate here.

The news is a welcome complement for our work with Innovation Exeter and complements the chosen site for the Met Office Supercomputer.

Councillor Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council said:

We are delighted that our joint bid for enterprise zone status for Huntspill Energy Park at Puriton and its partner sites within East Devon has been successful. This new status will offer renewed opportunities to unlock employment and investment on the site, and in the surrounding area, as well as to enhance our ability to attract investment linked to Hinkley and beyond.

Critically, it places BAE Systems site at Puriton within a small group of nationally important centres for growth spread across the country, recognising the effort being put in within the District and along the wider M5 corridor.

We now look forward to working with Government on the detail of the bid in conjunction with our partners in Devon and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Councillor Peter Edwards, Leader of Exeter City Council  said:

This is excellent news and another endorsement of confidence in Exeter`s economy to create high quality employment. The enterprise zone will help speed up the attraction of new businesses and employers and is another example of successful partnership working for the benefit of the area.

The single new enterprise zone across these two new locations will bring together 177 hectares of development land across the five sites, to create 17,800 high value jobs over the next 25 years and add an additional £320m in GVA per annum to the UK economy by 2040.