The Gravity Local Development Order (LDO) was adopted by Sedgemoor District Council on 23 February 2022.
The LDO is a streamlined form of planning consent, ideally suited to the Gravity enterprise zone and will create a marketing tool to attract investors to Sedgemoor, Somerset. Aligned with the priority to address climate change and contribute to transport decarbonisation, Gravity can offer up to 1.1 million square metres of advanced manufacturing space and associated facilities and enabling infrastructure, with the potential to create up to 7,000 jobs, and develop up to 750 homes as an integrated part of the smart campus. The site includes a proposed reinstated railway line for freight and passengers, and the sustainable design includes cycling and walking routes to promote active travel.
Stantec has been involved in the Gravity site since 2008, with a variety of specialisms across engineering, planning, environmental assessments, document preparation, and project management. The work includes the design and delivery of a new link road and green bridge connecting the site to the A39 and M5 Junction 23. Working collaboratively with Salamanca Group, Sedgemoor District Council, and the highway authorities through the planning, design, and approvals processes, a technical solution was developed that will unlock the site.
Stantec’s planning team established the LDO for Gravity, which will be at the heart of the UK's 4th Industrial Revolution. The Stantec team drafted the clean and inclusive growth strategy, and established 50 social and environmental positive measures in the design of the project. This early definition of social and environmental success enabled the LDO to respond to Government’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Jane Hirst, Director of Planning at Stantec, said: “Stantec is delighted to work with This is Gravity and is acting as lead consultant in preparing and delivering the LDO. Gravity is a project which will support the UK’s zero carbon ambitions, transform the local and regional economy, and support the community in achieving its ambitions to realise a higher value economy and jobs. We look forward to continuing to work with the team, including Sedgemoor District Council, as we move into delivery and realisation of this world class project.”
Martin Bellamy, Chairman and Chief Executive of This is Gravity Ltd commented: “This is an outstanding achievement to really put UK Plc on the map and ensure we are open for business and demonstrate that we can create the conditions for investment and growth. I am particularly pleased that our vision to put clean growth at the heart of the strategy has been achieved and our ambition now is to turn a consent into occupiers and job creation which can be truly transformational for the economy and locality’.
Claire Pearce, Director of Planning and Economic Development added: “This has been a cutting-edge journey, re-imagining the previous planning consent to create a more progressive response to climate change and economic restructuring, ensuring better outcomes for all. Can I extend my personal thanks to all of our consultant team for all of their hard work to achieve this major milestone, and also to our wider partners in the Gravity delivery group, businesses and the community who have been very supportive to ensure we can turn our vision into reality.”
Councillor Gill Slocombe, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Sedgemoor District commented: “The Council adoption of the LDO is an important step to accelerate the delivery of the enterprise zone to create jobs and opportunities for local communities and businesses in the supply chain. Sedgemoor has an exceptional track record in economic development and delivery and this decision will create long-term permanent opportunities for people beyond temporary construction jobs on other large-scale projects. We look forward to working with occupiers to enable facilities that will need to operate in a competitive, global marketplace, putting Bridgwater and wider Sedgemoor on the map and within a set of wider assets at the heart of the South West.”
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Gravity will be the UK’s first commercial smart campus and a blueprint for a ‘cleaner’, smarter future. It aims to attract the world’s most innovative companies working in the ‘clean growth’ sectors.
Expected to create up to 7,500 jobs, the 616-acre Enterprise Zone will be designed to shape connections between people and the places they work, supporting a culture of innovation and wellbeing. It will include diverse, flexible workspaces and resilient technologies along with enhanced transport links to, and within, the surrounding area.
Alicia de Haldevang
Stantec Media Relations