The 110 hectare site, comprising part brownfield and part greenfield land, is located adjacent to the M5 close to junction 23. It includes the former British Cellophane site of Innovia Films Limited which was important to the economic fortunes of the town prior to the business being closed some years ago. The whole site, centred on the famous ‘Willow Man’ landmark overlooking the motorway, is effectively the shop window for the town of Bridgwater.
The development of the North East Bridgwater site is expected to revitalise the economic fortunes and perceptions of the town. It represents a major first step in the implementation of the town’s ‘Bridgwater Challenge’ initiative to unlock the potential of the town and, as such, has received widespread support from the local community and its major stakeholders.
Advised by, amongst others, David Lock Associates, Irwin Mitchell and Brookbank Consulting, Hallam Land Management has now secured planning permission for up to 110,000 sq mtrs of employment floorspace capable of providing some 2,500 jobs, a commercial services centre providing local retail opportunities, up to 2,000 new homes, a primary school, improvements in recreation facilities and substantial enhancements to the local transport and green infrastructure.
The proposals include detailed approval for a 75,000 sq mtr Morrisons regional distribution centre to serve its south west network of stores and which will create some 1,000 new jobs on site. Morrisons has also secured consent for a food preparation facility employing 650 people on an adjoining site formerly occupied by Gerber Foods. The proposals will substantially reduce the company’s vehicle miles, resulting in significant environmental benefits. Its commitment to the town further extends to working with local agencies to make employment opportunities accessible. Construction will commence shortly and the distribution centre will be up and running by Christmas 2011.
James Brook, Development Executive at Morrisons, said “We have for some time been anxious to establish a distribution centre in the South West. The advantages of Bridgwater’s location, coupled with the positive welcome offered to the company by the local community, have been strong factors in securing our commitment to the town.”
The planning permission, granted by Sedgemoor District Council in July, also includes detailed approval for the construction of the first 400 of the 2,000 homes that can be accommodated on the site. Kickstart funding has been awarded by the Homes and Communities Agency for this first phase of development and David Wilson Homes have acquired the plots.
Opportunities for further B1, B2 and B8, employment and residential phases will be offered to the market by Hallam Land Management in due course.
Nick Duckworth, Director of Hallam Land Management, commented: “We are excited to be able to make this major investment in jobs and homes at Bridgwater at this particular time. We are particularly pleased to have secured the interest of such a respected company as Morrisons in this development. Its approach in working with us and with local stakeholders is to be applauded.
With proposals on this scale, we have needed to address a number of complex issues, and the commitment of Morrisons, David Wilson Homes, the Homes and Communities Agency and Sedgemoor District Council, among many other parties, has been instrumental in levering a very significant investment which we expect to be of great benefit to Bridgwater.”