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Somer Valley Enterprise Zone: Project overview


The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) is a planned new area for sustainable commercial development, where we are aiming to create a location 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.

The SVEZ is an important part of the delivery of the new B&NES Economic Strategy, as well as being a manifesto commitment of the current administration.

The site was allocated in 2007 as an employment site through the Local Plan, however the private sector were unable to deliver this. We have now stepped in and created a mechanism by which we can deliver a green business park via Local Development Order (LDO).

The SVEZ will create around 1,300 jobs that will provide good quality, secure, well-paid, local jobs giving residents meaningful and fulfilling employment.  

The administration are committed to promote active travel, public transport, and reduced car travel. With so many employees living locally and the provision of suitable infrastructure, we are expecting a shift in transport methods.

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 new Economic Strategy 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. 

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 adopted 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

Council commitments for the SVEZ

Improving opportunities

Create good quality jobs for residents which will reduce the need for commuting.

  • The SVEZ is designed to provide up to 1,300 jobs
  • The SVEZ will support a resilient business ecosystem that will provide upskilling and development opportunities for local residents
  • The SVEZ will seek to encourage the development of new businesses and local start ups and offer a space for these businesses to develop

Green business tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergencies

Provide a sustainable location for green business to maximise their contribution to tackling the climate and nature emergency:

  • The SVEZ will support growth in green and sustainable businesses
  • The SVEZ will deliver approximately 10 acres of green infrastructure on site, including over 10,000 trees
  • Development on site will achieve net zero carbon through sustainable construction measures
  • The SVEZ will deliver a 10% Biodiversity Net Gain

Active travel

Making active travel routes more convenient and better connected:

  • Road improvements and active travel measures will be put in place prior to occupation at the SVEZ
  • The SVEZ LDO will deliver a segregated walking and cycling track from Old Mills Lane to integrate with the Norton Radstock Greenway
  • West of England Combined Authority (WECA) will provide a shared active travel walking and cycling link from Old Mills Lane to Farrington Gurney

Public transport

Ensure public transport is available from the first occupation:

  • The WECA Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) states there is sufficient provision within the Somer Valley
  • We aim to maintain and extend local and rural regular bus service provision beyond 2027 along the A362 so that employees based at the SVEZ can travel to work by bus

Air quality

Mitigating the risk of worsening air quality:

  • Air quality modelling has been undertaken and has demonstrated a negligible impact with or without the SVEZ
  • We are committed to minimising the impact on air quality of the phasing of the site and will identify steps and procedures to minimise the creation and impact of air quality and dust. Air quality monitoring will be undertaken regularly

Midsomer Norton High Street

Protecting Midsomer Norton High Street:

  • It is important that our economy is inclusive, and prosperity is shared and, as such, the Council is committed to protecting our local high streets
  • The SVEZ will be a mixed commercial park with a range of uses. No standalone retail use has been approved through the LDO, only an ancillary food and beverage use on one plot that must complement the nearby town centres

Minimising HGV traffic

Minimising the flow of HGV traffic on our highways:

  • A Deliveries and Collection Strategy for each development plot will be secured through each Compliance Application including the coordination of HGVs
  • Extensive traffic modelling has taken place which predicts a maximum 4% increase in HGVs on the A37 and 8% on the A362

Controlling litter

No drive through food outlets that will contribute litter to our roads:

  • We recognise the ambition to reduce the impact of litter on local roads and do not intend to allow a drive through food and beverage unit on Plot 4 which could generate excess litter

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.

A Local Development Order (LDO) for the site was adopted by Cabinet on 1 February 2024.

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.