WORK is about to begin to create “the UK’s leading innovation campus” on the edge of Bridgwater.

A special Ground Breaking ceremony was held at Gravity, the 635-acre site of the former Royal Ordinance Factory between Puriton and Woolavington.

Lord David Triesman, Labour peer, former Energy Minister and executive board member of the Salamanca group which owns the site welcomed delegates to the ceremony marking the start of construction of the access road - a significant milestone for the site.

On its website, the Salamanca Group describes itself as ‘a boutique investment and advisory business based on traditional Merchant Banking practices and values’.

Co-founder of Salamanca, and chairman of Gravity, Martin Bellamy said: “We want this to be a leading UK innovation campus underpinned by clean growth and a focus on healthy working environments.”

He said he hoped the campus would be home to businesses specialising in the likes of robotics, artificial intelligence and low carbon energy generation.

“I would like to thank Sedgemoor District Council for their support on this project,” Mr Bellamy said.

“We have found them to be a very forward-thinking district council who identify with our bold vision for this site which we believe will provide opportunity and prosperity for 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."

It is anticipated Gravity will create up to 4,000 jobs and contribute £500m to the local economy.

Leader of Sedgemoor District Council Council, Cllr Duncan McGinty said: “The Gravity site is one of the manifestations of Sedgemoor’s forward thinking approach which prioritises international inward investment and growth.

“Our strong economic record shows we can confidently host local and regional business growth.

“Creation of high value job opportunities to inspire our young people, create new high-tech businesses and create new jobs keeping some of the 8,000 people who drive out of Sedgemoor to work elsewhere every day.”

Cllr McGinty said he was delighted to see the site being brought back into use and that £100m in business rates created would be reinvested to support the local economy, targeted at infrastructure growth.

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.

The link road will connect the site directly to the M5 at junction 23. 

Construction of the road will start in July 2019 with completion in Autumn 2020, enabling occupational construction to commence.

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.

Gravity’s Enterprise Zone status means that businesses locating here will be eligible for various incentives including simplified planning and reduction in business rates for up to five years.

At full capacity, the mixed-use innovation campus anticipates it will be home to 150 high-value businesses across low carbon energy generation, manufacturing, electric vehicles, robotics, AI, data centres, assembly and research and development. 

It will also provide leisure facilities and amenities accessible to employees and the local community.