What Is The Food Enterprise Park?!
You may have noticed the ‘Food Enterprise Park’ signs on the A47 near Honingham. But with nothing (yet) to see, you may be wondering what it’s all about. It’s pretty exciting stuff – here’s the lowdown.
As we all know, Norfolk is a major food and drink producer. At farm level Norfolk’s production works out at 15% pigs, 36% sugar beet, 38% turkeys, 14% potatoes, 12% barley and 8% glasshouse crops. In fact our county produces 7.5% of England’s total farm output value - making it one of the most productive agricultural areas in the UK both per hectare and per employee. Pretty amazing! But the fact is that we process only about half of this into added value products right here in Norfolk - with the balance being ‘exported’ to other parts of the country to be processed. Given that £4 in every £5 in the added value food chain is beyond the farm gate, this gap would be worth in excess of £1bn per annum to the Norfolk economy.
With Norfolk producing more than double the national share of farm output compared to its share of processed food output, this was a situation that needed some action. The vision of a Norfolk ‘Food Hub’ had been landlowner Ian Alston’s for over a decade - and the subsequent development of Food Enterprise Zones in 2015 gave the vision some clear direction.
The Greater Norwich Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) was announced by the then DEFRA Secretary of State, Liz Truss, in March 2015. Our FEZ is focused around the Royal Norfolk Showground, Easton and Otley College and land owned by Honingham Thorpe Farms. Launching the FEZ, Liz Truss said ”The zones will free up food and farming businesses, making it simpler and easier for them to grow, and will attract new businesses. Local communities will benefit from new jobs and the opportunity to develop local produce, boosting their economies”.
The Food Enterprise Park (FEP) is a 100 acre development site within the Greater Norwich Food Enterprise Zone, the first 46 acres of which benefits from Local Development Order status to encourage and support food production, processing and agriculture through the co-location of commercial enterprises. Plots are available to buy or lease to accommodate facilities of 5,000 sq ft to 500,000 sq ft. The FEP will create a central cluster of food-related businesses in the heart of our county – the largest food producing county in England - by attracting occupiers and investment from local, regional, national and international companies.
Plans are now finalized to connect services to the site and the initial developments are in planning stage; next year should see the first processor on site. We understand there may also be an opportunity to develop a ‘Food Start Unit’ complex on the site for smaller food and drink processers wanting to move into food grade units to develop their businesses.
If you would like to be kept informed on the development of the Food Enterprise Park you can register for their newsletter at www.foodenterprisepark.com