Council deal ‘will create hundreds of jobs’

An artist's impression of what Enterprise House will look like once it is built.

An artist's impression of what Enterprise House will look like once it is built. - Credit: Archant

COUNCILLORS will tonight (Tuesday) vote on a deal to allow a new multi-storey office block to be built near the M5 – a move which is expected to create hundreds of jobs for Weston.

North Somerset Council has provisionally agreed to take on a 15-year head-lease for two-thirds of the proposed Enterprise House on the Weston Gateway Business Park, so developer Dowlas UK Ltd can begin construction work.

Dowlas has secured 5,000sq ft of pre-lets for its 25,000sq ft complex and says it has interest from other businesses in becoming part of the development, but they are reluctant to sign up before construction begins. However finance for the building work cannot be released until enough pre-lets have been agreed.

Therefore the council has said, subject to councillors’ approval, it will step in and take on a head-lease to prevent a stalemate.

However when the Mercury asked the council how much money would be initially committed to the venture and for explanation of the ‘various mitigation measures’ it has in place to protect its investment should the interested parties not come forward, a spokesman said the details were ‘commercially sensitive’ and could not be made public.

Should the proposal be approved by councillors tonight, building work would then begin in the spring.

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Knightstone Housing’s headquarters and The Super Mare pub have already been built at the business park. A children’s nursery, a 50,000sq ft office block and a new police response centre – to replace Weston Police Station – are all earmarked as future developments for the £26.5million complex in Somerset Avenue.

Enterprise House is expected to create about 160 jobs once it is open, with the other proposed developments a further 760.

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Although he did not publicly divulge how much the council is putting towards the venture, council leader Nigel Ashton said this would be a positive move during a time of financial cutbacks.

He said: “Enabling Enterprise House to be built sooner rather than later will be a key trigger to unlocking further development of the gateway site and therefore the jobs and business rates that it will generate.

“If agreed by council next week, this bold step will provide the catalyst to unlock more than 900 jobs, a significant contribution towards the overall target of 9,000 jobs across the Junction 21 Enterprise Area.

“With the council continuing to face unprecedented financial constraints, it is more important than ever we invest in a positive future based on a thriving local economy.

“This, in turn, will sustain our ability to fund the vital services on which so many people depend.”

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