Two new enterprise centres have moved a step closer for Somerset after the county council announced its chosen contractor for both schemes.Both schemes are at an advanced design stage and are expected to be operational by March 2020
Somerset County Council has appointed Kier to bring forward the new Wells Technology Enterprise Centre and the Wiveliscombe Enterprise Centre.
Harry Morris, the county council’s graduate economic development officer, said the delivery of these facilities would “enhance and enable the economy of Somerset” as well as the local area.
He added: “Independent demand surveys identified that the areas of Wells and Wiveliscombe are currently under-served in their needs and demands for flexible work spaces and business support.
Business Property Network would disagree – there is an oversupply of office and enterprise space in the Wells area which could provide the same offer as these Enterprise Centres. Somerset County Council needs to work with current investors rather than compete with the private sector using tax payers’ cash.
“The introduction of these enterprise centres will address this issue and provide space locally, which is expected to have a positive impact on the need for business to travel away from the area.
“The project will enable the workforce of Wells and Wiveliscombe to create sustainable growth and jobs, as well as improving the overall performance of the county.”
The Wells centre will be built on the Cathedral Park business park, opposite the Morrisons supermarket on the A371 East Somerset Way.
The 550 sq m facility will cost just over £2M – of which £745,715 will come directly from the council’s business growth fund as part of its capital programme.
A further £757,000 will come from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with the remaining £563,763 being produced by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The Wiveliscombe Enterprise Centre will be built on the former Karro Foods site on Sandys Moor.
The centre will provide 260 sq m of flexible office space and 350 sq m of light industrial units, at a cost of around £2.12M.
Of this, £1.12M will come from the council, £500,000 from the LEP and £472,000 from the ERDF.
Councillor David Hall, cabinet member for economic development, planning and community infrastructure, has welcomed the announcement.
He said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Somerset economy and vital to encourage growth.
“Finding the right sort of space can be a real challenge for new businesses, which is why we continue to invest in Enterprise Centres across the county.
“I look forward to the project’s completion and to the arrival of new and innovative businesses.”