ABOUT BRIDGWATER TOWN DEAL
The Bridgwater Town Deal is set to bring £23.2million government funding into the town, to be invested in eleven different projects.
This funding unlocks a total programme of £161.8million of direct capital investment in Bridgwater, providing a leverage rate of 6.5 times. This includes £24million of private sector match-funding, making virtual parity with the Towns Fund investment.
The overall aim of the Bridgwater Town Deal is to help ‘level up’ the area and create a vibrant and welcoming town centre. This will be achieved by revitalising the social, cultural and economic offerings in town centre, as well as unlocking future growth by resolving traffic congestion and protecting the area from tidal flooding.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR
In 2019 the government launched the Towns Fund, a £3.6billion funding package aiming to regenerate and level up towns across the UK. Bridgwater was one of 101 towns invited to apply for £25million of funding offered to each town. The funding is intended to boost the economic growth of towns with a focus on regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, and enhancement of skills and culture.
Sedgemoor District Council (now part of Somerset Council) accepted the offer to respond to the call for funding. In February 2020 a Town Deal Board was formed, an independent body in charge of delivering the Town Investment Plan, chaired at the time by Dr Fiona McMillan and consisting of representatives from local organisations including local authorities.
To be allocated funding, the Town Deal Board was required to develop a Town Investment Plan, a comprehensive and place-specific document which clearly articulates:
The Bridgwater Town Investment Plan was submitted to government in January 2021. As a result, £23.2million investment – the Bridgwater Town Deal – was awarded to the town subject to the approval of comprehensive Business Cases for each of the projects.
All of the Business Cases for the Bridgwater Town Deal projects have been submitted, with confirmation received so far for all but three projects (the documentation for which was submitted a little later than the others). Work is already underway on many of the projects and all Town Deal funding must be spent by the end of March 2026.
Despite significant investment and growth over the last decade, there is recognition that the core urban area of Bridgwater has not been fully included in its growth story and, as a result, risks being left behind. The purpose of the Bridgwater Town Deal is to address this fundamental challenge, to level up Bridgwater to the prosperity of the wider district and make the town centre the destination of choice for residents and businesses in the area.
Preparation of the Town Investment Plan provided an opportunity to reflect and focus on the core urban area, with the Towns Fund providing a catalyst to re-position and re-energise Bridgwater in response to the economic shock from the Covid-19 pandemic, and to properly connect the town centre with the economic potential of the wider area.
There is already a strong policy framework detailing the economic and community potential of Bridgwater and the wider area. The original Bridgwater Vision prepared in 2009 established a clear community-owned prospectus for the future which, alongside the Bridgwater Vision Review & Refresh in 2015, provided the basis for the Town Investment Plan to follow in the next phase of economic recovery and growth.
ABOUT THE TOWNS FUNDS
On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth.
A Town Deal is an agreement in principle between government, the Lead Council and the Town Deal Board. It will set out a vision and strategy for the town, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.
Each of the 101 towns selected to work towards a Town Deal also received accelerated funding for investment in capital projects that would have an immediate impact and help places “build back better” in the wake of Covid-19.