After their introduction in 2015, Somerset County Council (SCC) needed to understand the process of establishing an Enterprise Zone, and benefits they can provide. HJA provided a presentation and accompanying information which summarised the nature and role of Enterprise Zones, as well as existing examples of Enterprise Zones in areas similar to Somerset and the Heart of the South West.
Firstly, we conducted a review of the 24 existing Enterprise Zones, Government guidance, and Budget announcements in order to summarise the criteria and likely success factors for an Enterprise Zone. Secondly, we reviewed the Somerset Growth Plan, local plans and Heart of the South West LEP publication to identify specific opportunities for Enterprise Zones in Somerset.
Our helped SCC understand the case required to establish an Enterprise Zone at both a macro and a micro level. We helped them understand which of their plans and aspirations for the smart specialisation sectors in Somerset could be used to make a case for an Enterprise Zone, in particular the Hinkley Point C nuclear development opportunity. This work informed discussions between SCC and Heart of the South West LEP in terms of their bid to establish an Enterprise Zone in Somerset. In late 2015, Government approved a bid from Heart of the South West LEP for a multi-site Enterprise Zone centred on Huntspill Energy Park near Bridgewater and the Exeter & East Devon Growth Point.