Bridgwater housing hit by influx of workers
Bridgwater town councillor, Leigh Redman, is concerned by a proposed 400% increase in workers travelling to Hinkley C. Owner EdF are asking for an increase to 2,100 workers travelling to Bridgwater. Currently just 420 are permitted. This is on top of even bigger proposed increases in numbers of workers living in the Bridgwater area too.
There’s no doubt that having the workforce living in and around Bridgwater is good for business. The town should see a significant increase in trade for local shops and services. But it is having an impact on the housing market too.
Cllr Redman is also the town councils negotiator in discussion with EdF and Sedgemoor District Council. He told The Leveller “Yes HPC has contributed to Bridgwater and the surrounding areas in many wonderful ways, with Sedgemoor helping create many more bed spaces, but the housing situation in our town is already hard and getting worse by the day. Young and not so young are now struggling to get on the property ladder, rentals are a bidding game, some estate agents are seeking sealed bids. There is a need to get in early if you are to be lucky. But the one thing that is for sure is there are currently not enough places to live in Bridgwater for the number looking, so money talks.”
There is some frustration locally with the discussions. While EdF are talking directly with SDC and the county council, Bridgwater Town Council are being left out. The current number of workers allowed on site is set out in the Development consent order (DCO). It was meant to be 5500 at peak, but now EdF propose to increase this to 8600.
EdF initially agreed to limit numbers onsite. They also helped by building accommodation blocks to support travelling workers. They now acknowledge that travelling workers want to live as near to site as possible. Accommodation blocks are full, so new travelling staff will have to seek local rooms.
Cllr Redman believes the impact on the local housing market is now desperate: “I am asking for them to take this seriously. With numbers on site already regularly passing 6,500, EDFe need to put a plan in place before local people are impacted further“
I know the local community didn’t really have much of a choice but I’m afraid I don’t think HPC has been good for Bridgwater and the surrounding area at all. It may have provided some economic stimulus but at what cost? The goose may lay some golden eggs but it does some almighty big turds at the same time. It’s also part built by the Chinese and I’m afraid I don’t trust their quality levels or concern for safety / security. I can’t help but think more gradual growth with smaller industries would have benefited the area more.