BRIDGWATER could receive up to £25m later this year for projects to regenerate the town centre, create new jobs and bring new investment to the area.

Bridgwater was one of two Somerset towns (Glastonbury being the other) which was selected by the government to develop a “town deal” to drive future economic growth.

Sedgemoor District Council has been given just over £162,000 to set up a board, which will draw up a “town deal” plan to achieve these aims through different projects.

The council can then bid for further funding of up to £25m in the summer to put these projects in place.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government published a list in September 2019 of 101 towns which would develop “town deal” proposals.

Each deal must be designed to “enable regeneration, improve connectivity, improve skills and drive new investment” in the local area.

The council’s executive committee met in Bridgwater to discuss the next steps on Wednesday morning (February 5).

While no specific projects have yet been put forward for the summer bid, the council said the funding’s potential uses were “huge and wide-ranging”.

Nathaniel Lucas, the council’s economic development manager, said in his written report: “The fund is designed to make sure that towns are thriving places for people to live and work, as well as driving private sector investment.”

Any money for which the council successfully bids can be spent in any part of Bridgwater – including within the new developments planned for Bower Lane, Quantock Road and around both junctions of the M5.

Mr Lucas said this would “provide flexibility of investment as the town grows”, allowing the funding to be targeted to where it was most urgently needed.

Councillor Mike Caswell, portfolio holder for infrastructure and transport, welcomed the funding but said work should be carried out to prevent other major settlements – like North Petherton and Highbridge – from being left behind.

He said: “I would hate to think other settlements are going to look into this and think we are being Bridgwater-centric.

“These are substantial settlements and I would hate to see them disadvantaged by ploughing all that money into Bridgwater.

“I say that as a Bridgwater lad. I love this town.”

Council leader Duncan McGinty replied the council was “looking at options to support these settlements through other means”.

He added: “We are at a really early stage. We are going out to consultation, and I am sure there will be many ideas in the melting pot for the future.”