Please enable JavaScript in your browser to use this page.

Somer Valley Enterprise Zone: Project overview


The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) is a planned new area for commercial development, where we are aiming to create a local hub for new business and employment. This page provides further information about the commercial and policy background to this project, its main aims, and how we plan to achieve these.

Select a topic below, to read in more detail about the background and purpose of the project.

What is the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone?

A lack of available commercial space in the Somer Valley has constrained business and employment growth for some time, with many residents having to commute to surrounding towns and cities for work. Our Economic Strategy Review recognises this issue, and the 'urgent need' to encourage new employment land use in this area.

The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) was established in April 2017 to support existing local businesses and to attract new business to the area. Enterprise Zones are designated areas across England which encourage business growth and new jobs by providing business rate discounts, tax breaks, superfast broadband and other government support.

Where the new Enterprise Zone will be located

The SVEZ site is located at Old Mills, a greenfield area extending to 13.5 hectares on the north-western edge of Midsomer Norton. 

Image of site allocated for Somer Valley Enterprise Zone, adjoining the A362, Wickes and the spoil heap, on the north-western edge of Midsomer Norton
Outline showing the site allocated for development as Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ).
Image of site allocated for Somer Valley Enterprise Zone, adjoining the A362, Wickes and the spoil heap, on the north-eastern edge of Midsomer Norton
Map showing the relationship of the site to Midsomer Norton, Paulton and Farrington Gurney. The land adjoins woodland around the mining spoil heap (The Batch) and the A362.

The aims of the project

Our vision is that SVEZ will become the ‘go-to’ place for new and existing businesses in the Somer Valley area. It will provide a vibrant mix of viable and sustainably deliverable land uses, creating around 1300 new jobs, all in an attractive, sustainable, and high-quality-design setting. The new development will add to the existing commercial and employment opportunities in the area, and will complement existing centres. The reduced need for local people to commute out of the area to find work will also help to address the Climate and Ecological Emergencies.

Key aims of the project are as follows: 

  • Sustainability
    SVEZ will address the Climate and Ecological Emergencies by creating a Net Zero Carbon Development and targeting a minimum 10% bio-diversity net gain (meaning that we aim to increase biodiversity on-site and in the immediate area by 10% or more, once the development is complete)

  • High-quality
    SVEZ will be an exemplar scheme and a distinctive place of high-quality design 

  • Viability
    SVEZ will provide much needed commercial and employment space. The proposed Local Development Order (LDO) will give us the flexibility to respond to market demands, both now and in the future, and will make it easier to deliver the development more quickly. See below for more information about what an LDO is, and the impact it will have.

  • Deliverability
    SVEZ will be supported by appropriate infrastructure, including the following:
    • Highway improvements
    • Estate roads
    • A surface water drainage strategy, incorporating a sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS) where appropriate
    • Flood mitigation measures 
  • Complementing existing development
    The SVEZ will not threaten the viability of neighbouring town centres and will not cause unacceptable impacts on the surrounding area. View our research on this subject

The status of the site

Our One Shared Vision framework, published in June 2021, sets out our vision for fairer, greener, more creative and connected communities. It embodies the inclusion and environmental commitments from our Corporate Strategy, focusing on economic and social renewal, as we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It proposes a new vision for a stronger, low carbon, more inclusive and diverse local economy. 

The site has been allocated for employment uses in the B&NES Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. The SVEZ aims to deliver in the region of 1300 new jobs for local people, and around 40 000 square metres of commercial floorspace. 

SVEZ was granted ‘Enterprise Zone’ (EZ) status by the Government in April 2017, as part of the wider Bath and Somer Valley Enterprise Zone. The EZ status demonstrates support for economic development in the form of new job creation, business space provision and more generally a contribution towards economic growth of the local economy.

What is a Local Development Order (LDO)?

We are proposing to create a Local Development Order (LDO) on land at the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ).

LDOs are used by Local Planning Authorities to help set the planning framework for an area and to bring forward development. They provide permitted development rights for specified types of development in defined locations, and are essentially a type of planning policy ‘zoning’, which grants planning permission for specific development proposals or classes of development within a defined area.

How an LDO works

LDOs are flexible tools which cover a range of uses, scales of projects, and size of buildings. The SVEZ LDO will include a design code, setting out what buildings and spaces should look like, and how they should function, in the final development.

LDOs streamline the planning process by removing the need for developers to make a planning application to a Local Planning Authority (LPA). Creating an LDO for the SVEZ project will help provide greater flexibility for potential developers, and greater certainty for local people. This allows development to come forward more quickly and with greater ease. 

Once the application for the LDO is submitted, the Local Planning Authority will run a formal public consultation process. This allows for local input, guiding development in the right direction, in terms of demand and local aspirations.

Read more about LDOs, where and why they already exist in England 

The purpose of an LDO

LDOs are flexible tools, which can accommodate changes in market conditions and accelerate the delivery of necessary development. 

Creating an LDO for a large-scale development provides more certainty about the progress of the project. Investment becomes more attractive because the LDO simplifies the planning process, making it easier to deliver the project on time and in budget.

Take part in the statutory consultation on the LDO