As we enter the final weeks of the year, this moment offers a unique opportunity to reflect on Gravity’s journey to becoming the UK’s leading Smart campus.
Gravity is anything but ordinary. By its very nature, it explores the ‘Art of the Possible.’ Already considered to be the UK’s flagship on the interplay between the technology and the physical campus estate, it will lead the way in transforming the South West into a Clean Growth Economy. That means new challenges, new businesses, new opportunities.
In the two years since its inception, many significant milestones have been achieved. Gravity has been developing at speed, the Link road is on schedule, the architectural plans are in full swing, and some exciting companies are looking to Gravity to call home.
Those who have heard me speak lately, will know the Clean Energy is a driving force for Gravity. We welcomed the news in September that the Climate Minister promised a much needed major revamp of the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy that set out how the UK planned to meet the government’s new 2050 net-zero emission target. But are their actions enough? This month saw the news that climate change could be irreversible by 2030 as we are using more of the earth’s resources than it can renew. If we carry on using the earth’s resources at our current rate of consumption, we’d need 1.7 planets to support the demand on the earth’s ecosystems. I find this incredibly worrying, and even more so, there is a call to arms for industries to protect our planet and move to zero emissions.
As we move into 2020, the demand for lowing admissions presents a unique opportunity to use clean technology at Gravity to achieve economic growth and sustainable development for Somerset and the South West. The immediate challenge for us and for all stakeholders along the Gravity value chain is to react fast enough to the change in consumers, technology, and the climate. As we harness these changes, we believe we can help The South West to better serve the needs of society and the environment.
Having broken ground on the site-unlocking access road in 2019, we envisage that 2020 will be the year that Gravity becomes the latest edition to the UK’s megaproject map. Whatever the outcome for Thursday, Gravity will continue to drive partnerships between government, academia, private sector & the community.
I hope you have a merry festive season and I look forward to updating you in the New Year on more of Gravity’s advancements that will benefit the South West.
Martin Bellamy, Gravity Chairman
Rail Connectivity at Gravity
Tom Curtis – Co-CEO
Pioneering new approaches to sustainable transport are a critical element for all developments, but nowhere more so than at Gravity. Our vision ensures that the majority of freight and passengers will be brought to and from our site by rail. With the major transport links of Bristol deep sea port and the cities of Exeter and Bristol, all within a 45- minute rail journey of the site, our reliance on road transport is significantly reduced.
We have therefore commissioned Network Rail to carry out a full feasibility and design project to assess the deliverability of both freight and passenger terminals on-site, connecting Gravity directly to the mainline. Having rail infrastructure will hugely increase the speed of take-up of space on the site and most importantly, will also broaden the range of occupiers who will be attracted to the site given its national reach. We welcome the support of the HotSW LEP and other partners in working with us to explore this potential.
On time, on track
Paul Lowndes – Programme Director
Gravity reached a milestone in the Summer with the commencement of the Link Road, a 12-month project to connect the site directly to the M5 at junction 23.
We are on track to start construction on site by Summer 2020. The Puriton Junior School noise and pollution monitoring programme remains ongoing and we are delighted with low impact scores to date. We are incredibly proud to be the first real estate private company to receive Growth Deal funding for transport infrastructure by the Heart of the South West LEP Growth Deal Fund.
Our aspirations are to maximise the use of local labour and local businesses, both from the immediate area and the Great South West. We continue to work with local colleagues and universities to build capacity and capability, and to ensure new occupier needs can be met.
Open for business
Gareth John – Senior Business Advisor
As an international inward investment destination, Gravity is now “open for business”. We are working with investors, the board, and through our real estate networks to communicate the Gravity site and its potential to host a new era of clean industrial growth. We are collaborating with the DIT and BEIS to help position the site to national and global investors in Clean Growth sectors and will be enthusiastic about informing trade missions and receiving international visitors to the South West. We will continue to work across the Local, Regional and National Government bodies to identify opportunities to host occupiers and target investment to enable delivery.
Flagship for the Southwest
Claire Pearce – Director – Planning and Economic Development
To realise our ambitions and achieve success, Gravity will be evolving a strategy to implement the planning consent and emerging vision, striving to make improvements to the approach to secure Clean Growth.
We are delighted with the progress on the Sedgemoor Transport Investment Strategy, funded by Gravity through our section 106 obligations, establishing clear priorities for investment until 2050.
Gravity is a ‘game-changer’ in terms of place-shaping and economic development and we are excited about the prospects ahead for new investors and occupiers to diversify and add value to the wider Sedgemoor and Somerset economies.
The team have made a clear statement of intent to host and pioneer sustainable
transport, specifically in a rural context, through a Sustainable Mobility Research and
Innovation Centre, partnering with institutions across the South West on a European funding bid to integrate academic input to the sites transport operations. We are very excited about partnering with the University of the West of England and linking into the Connecting Places Catapult and working with Innovate UK on the future of transport in the South West.
We are committed to ensuring that Gravity will be at the leading edge of sustainable transport providing walking, cycling and public transport options.