The Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station is the “largest foreign direct investment and inward investment project in the country” Claire Pearce, Director of Planning and Economic Growth of This is Gravity Ltd told attendees at the recent West of England Development Conference. 

With a building cost of up to £22.5bn the new power plant will utilise cutting-edge EPR technology and a third-generation nuclear reactor developed by EDF Energy, the owners and operators of the plant.

The plant is driving wider growth in the local economy, and Pearce described the legacy of the project in the form of Gravity, a new Enterprise Zone set to be delivered by the Salamanca Group subsidiary This is Gravity Ltd.

The Enterprise Zone will “create 6000 jobs, 5000 homes, huge investment in educational infrastructure for the long-term, new schools and a flood-defence project.”

Pearce described the proposed scheme: “This is Gravity is a new company centered at J25 of the M5. It’s a 655-acre Enterprise Zone, so its a bigger scale than the site at Hinckley and there’s the opportunity of having new rail links connecting the site with the wider region.” 

This is Gravity is looking to the future for the project, designing an “innovative mixed-use campus” with a focus on sustainable transport and technology. Pearce summarised their objectives: “We want to look at what the art of the possible is in terms of achieving the future of mobility and clean growth in Somerset.” 

The Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone is a major development project that is being constructed around the Bristol Temple Meads railway station. As part of the project the University of Bristol is building substantially on their estates, which forms part of their Innovation Campus Strategy.

Colin Molton, Executive Director of Growth & Regeneration at the Bristol City Council, said: “The university campus will see half a billion investment going into that project alone, and we’re working hour by hour to make that project a success.”

The council is steering the development of Bristol to deal with challenges in the retail market, Molton explained: “A city centre revitalisation group has been established to look at how we are going to repurpose much of the retail space going forward, considering the change in shopping habits.”

Housing delivery is another key objective of Bristol City Council, and Molton described the improvements the council has made in recent years: “We now have about seven different routes to market including our own housing delivery company Gorham homes.”

North Somerset Council have joined Bristol in their ambition to become carbon neutral, having also recently declared a climate emergency. Councillor Dine Romero said “The important things for us have been not just declaring that climate emergency but doing something about it.”

Romero continued: “Since we formed the administration in May we have created a new role within the council who is our climate emergency cabinet member, who is tasking”. The council has recently joined the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to allow a combined approach to development. 

Lucy Shomali, Director of Development & Environment at North Somerset Council discussed the development happening across the region and their need to acquire funding support: “We’ve accessed high street funding to invest in the town centre at Weston-Super-Mare and we’ve other funding has enabled us to deliver our first new homes as North Somerset Council. We don’t have any HRAs, so we’ve had to access grants and use our own funding for that.”

Interconnectivity in the North Somerset region is set to improve with the construction of the North-South link road underway and funding approved for the Metro West rail service. The council has also developed a skills strategy to try to deal with social deprivation in the Weston area. 

Shomali described the region as being “on the cusp of unlocking huge opportunity.”

The Chief Executive of Bristol & Bath Regional Capital (BBRC), Edward Rowberry discussed how recent developments are incorporating their inclusion agenda. He described the goal is to move away from “a tale of two cities, to one city where everyone can share in hope and aspiration.”

Rowberry discussed how authorities have begun to incorporate such values: “Local industrial strategy is starting to share values with some of the stuff I’ve spoken about around inclusivity and clean growth”.

He concluded with a hopeful message: “If you start from a shared value set there’s a lot that can be done from a collaborative perspective.” This collaboration provide the basis for a truly energetic region.