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Gravity forms part of a multi-site Heart of the South West Enterprise Zone. This brownfield site located near Puriton just off Junction 23 of the M5 was once home to the Royal Ordnance Factory.

Latest updateGravity Enterprise ZoneBenefitsEnquiriesMore informationDocuments

Latest update

information

Agratas – a subsidiary of Tata Sons – has confirmed that it will build a facility which will produce battery cells for electric vehicles (EV) at the Gravity Smart Campus in Puriton, near Bridgwater.

Construction will be completed by Agratas in phases, with production expected to begin in 2026, and the facility will eventually produce 40GWh of battery cells annually, enough to supply approximately 500,000 passenger vehicles.

The £4 billion investment from Tata Sons at the Gravity Smart Campus has the potential to kick-start countywide and regional economic growth and jobs. The facility will create up to 4,000 direct new jobs and thousands more in the supply chain.

The rest of the site is being actively managed and marketed by the owner – This Is Gravity Ltd – Gravity Smart Campus | Fast-track to the future, naturally

Gravity Enterprise Zone

Gravity is a 616-acre Enterprise Zone located near Puriton just off Junction 23 of the M5 and was once home to the Royal Ordnance Factory. The Agratas facility will take up roughly half of the site.

Gravity has been designated by the Council as a strategic location for economic growth in the area and a transformational opportunity to restructure the economy to provide long term jobs. This follows industrial job losses in Bridgwater in the early 2000’s and the largely temporary roles at Hinkley Point C construction project. The Supplementary Planning Document for the site prepared in 2012 outlined likely business sectors and end users to be located within the site. Subsequent planning permission obtained by the site owners in 2013 reinforced low carbon and energy generation aspiration for the site.

In July 2020, Sedgemoor District Council decided to pursue a Local Development Order for the site to attract inward investment and align planning with the emerging clean and inclusive growth vision and ambition for the site. This was a progress response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and climate emergency.

In 2021, Sedgemoor District Council agreed a Local Development Order for Gravity. This was subject to detailed technical work and signing of a Section 106 agreement. To view the relevant documents please visit our Gravity Local Development Order page.

The site was allocated as an Enterprise Zone in the Autumn Statement in 2015 and formally activated in April 2017 as part of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership portfolio of Enterprise Zones. These are Gravity, Oceansgate, SkyPark, Exeter Science Park, Exeter Airport and Cranbrook town centre.

Benefits

The Enterprise Zone status provides a range of incentives to attract and support businesses that are setting up or growing on site, including simplified and commercially flexible planning regimes like Local Development Orders.

Additional income from business rates generated on site over its lifetime will be reinvested locally to further support economic growth. This will help to improve the future success of the Zone and the wider area for example in skills and workforce development, directly connecting communities to the new investment.

Enquiries

To find out more about the project and how you might get involved please email the team on enterprise.zone@somerset.gov.uk

For any planning related queries please email the team on majorprojectsnorth@somerset.gov.uk

For any questions about Agratas’ work, please email communityuk@agratas.net

More information

Is this the final go ahead for the facility?
The announcement in February confirmed Agratas’ intention to build a UK facility which will produce battery cells for electric vehicle on the Gravity Smart Campus.

The Local Development Order provides planning consent. However, each occupier will need to submit detailed proposals in an application for Local Development Order compliance to Somerset Council. The Council will then assess the application and decide whether to approve or refuse the details submitted.

How big will Agratas’ facility be?
Once fully operational, the facility is set to be the largest in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe.

Who are Agratas?
Agratas is a new global battery business owned by Tata Sons, operating in the UK and India. It designs, develops and manufactures battery cells for use in the mobility sector.

What will the site be making?
Lithium-Ion batteries to be used in electric vehicles. Agratas’ first customers will be Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in the UK and Tata Motors in India.

What is This is Gravity Ltd?
This is Gravity Ltd (TIGL) is the company formed in 2017 which established the Gravity Smart Campus in Puriton. In 2023 it sold part of the site to Agratas. The remainder of the site, approximately 50%, remains in the ownership of This is Gravity Ltd who will be managing the land and seeking further occupiers to join the smart campus family.

When will construction work start?
Agratas has started initial ground work and is aiming for construction to start in the summer of 2024. The site benefits from some existing planning permissions and a Local Development Order Section 106 agreement that allows some early work to take place on site.

When will the Agratas facility be operational?
It will be built in three phases. Agratas is aiming for initial battery cell production in 2026. Construction of later phases will continue with the expectation that the Agratas part of the site will be fully operational by the early 2030s.

What about safety?
This development and its operation will require specific environmental permits and licences to ensure health and safety regulations are being adhered to.

How many jobs will the facility create when fully operational?
Once fully operational, it is expected to create around 4,000 jobs on site, many of them will be well-paid, highly skilled jobs. There should also be many other jobs created in businesses supplying the site.

A key part of the Council’s role and investment in the project is skills development, to make sure that as many of those jobs as possible stay local.

How do I engage with the supply chain?
The Local Development Order puts an obligation on all occupiers of the Gravity site to engage and work with local businesses. This is known as the Gravity Business Charter. It is for occupiers to develop responses to the Charter as part of their Environmental, Social and Governance policies.

What will happen to the rest of the Gravity site?
The rest of the site benefits from the simplified planning regime established by the Local Development Order and it is being actively marketed by the owner – This Is Gravity Ltd. This Is Gravity Ltd is progressing the development of a new leisure facility on the smart campus to provide services to the site workforce and local community. This will replace the current 37 Club facilities which will need to relocate in accordance with the Local Development Order. This Is Gravity Ltd are also in discussions with other potential occupiers for the remaining parts of the site.

What is an Enterprise Zone and what does it do?
An Enterprise Zone is a Government tool to accelerate the delivery of jobs and business growth. The status is awarded by Government for a period of 25 years to speed up delivery of employment sites and to attract inward investment into an area.

This status allows for a simplified planning process including Local Development Orders.
Importantly, all business rates collected from an Enterprise Zone are retained by the local authority – in this case Somerset Council – to be reinvested locally to accelerate delivery and provide a further boost to the local economy.

What is a Local Development Order?
A Local Development Order streamlines the planning process, providing permitted development rights for specified types of development in defined locations. The Local Development Order establishes a series of parameters that must be met by anyone wishing to develop the site.

In February 2022 Sedgemoor District Council adopted the Gravity Local Development Order, which effectively grants planning permission for future proposals in accordance with development parameters set out in the Local Development Order. The next stage is for any developer wishing to build on the site to demonstrate that their proposals comply with those Local Development Order parameters. This is known as the Compliance Process.

The Gravity Local Development Order sets out a simplified planning process to facilitate the delivery of substantial commercial floorspace (up to 1 million sqm for an advanced manufacturing facility) and smart campus including a wide range of supporting uses (up to 100,000 sqm), up to 750 homes (for people principally employed on site) and associated infrastructure.

If proposals meet the criteria, the Local Development Order means there is no requirement for any formal application for planning permission.

Does the Local Development Order mean no further planning applications are needed?
If a proposal is not considered to be compliant with the parameters of r the Gravity Local Development Order, a planning application will be required.

The approach currently being undertaken by Agratas is that its proposals will be compliant with the Local Development Order. It may be however that ancillary works or additional phases not yet considered falls outside the approved parameters. In that case they require separate planning applications.

An applicant needs to submit an Local Development Order Compliance Application. The Local Planning Authority (Somerset Council) will consider the acceptability of the proposed development against the parameters in the Local Development Order.

Are there other permissions that will be needed, besides planning?
The Local Development Order removes the requirement to obtain express planning permission but it does not remove the need to obtain other statutory consents such as Building Regulations approval, consents under Highways legislation, environmental licensing and permitting and Health and Safety Executive consents and so on.

It remains the responsibility of each future occupier to ensure that all other statutory requirements are followed.

Will there be any further new roads or other infrastructure built as part of this development?
There will need to be new roads within the site and they will need to connect to existing infrastructure. The detail will come through compliance submissions as each occupier will need to develop its own transport strategy and be assessed against the Local Development Order and the associated transport model. It is the expectation that occupiers will develop a multi modal transport strategy and the Council as the local highway authority, together with National Highways, will consider impacts and mitigation requirements and respond as a delivery agency. There will also be other infrastructure compliance applications for example on energy distribution.

How much will Agratas’ facility cost and who is paying?
In February 2024, Agratas announced £4bn of investment to build its facility on the site.

Last reviewed: May 7, 2024 by Ian

Next review due: November 7, 2024

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