The government has approved the creation of six new Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs) to kickstart local food and drink economies, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced today.
The zones make it easier for existing businesses to expand and new ones to set up, attracting investment and boosting the rural economy. They will also forge closer links through the entire food chain, joining up farmers, manufacturers, retailers and researchers, helping businesses realise the full value of our food and drink.
The zones are a key part of the government’s policy of helping entrepreneurs fulfil their ambitions in food and farming, which is central to the British economy and worth more than £100 billion a year.
The new FEZs – located in Central Bedfordshire, Gipping Valley and Orwell in Suffolk, Greater Norwich, North Somerset, and Ryedale, North Yorkshire – bring the total now being set up to 17. These new zones are home to some of England’s most celebrated produce, from flavoursome tomatoes grown in the Vale of Evesham to rare breed meat from cattle grazed at Jimmy’s Farm in Babergh, Suffolk.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
Food and farming is at the heart of our long-term economic plan and vital to securing Britain’s economic future. This latest round of successful Food Enterprise Zones will help unlock the potential of local food and farming businesses by forging closer links between farmers, manufacturers, retailers and researchers.
Consumers both here and abroad want to buy great British food and drink. These zones will ensure our entrepreneurs can put great ideas into practice, meet that growing demand and expand this fantastic industry.
The FEZs are locally designed to meet the needs of local food and drink economies. They are all subject to public consultation.
FEZs, based on local development orders, streamline planning procedures for businesses that meet the zone’s criteria, making it cheaper and simpler for them to expand.
The government is awarding grants of up to £50,000 to successful bidders to develop their FEZ proposals.
The six new proposed Food Enterprise Zones are:
South East Midlands LEP. Central Bedfordshire Planning Authority
The FEZ, working with Cranfield University, will support the creation of 2,000 jobs and up to 30 new businesses by 2020 in a new food and drink cluster. The zone covers the Stratton Park Opportunity Area, which will expand to 80 hectares with the addition of three adjoining development sites. It will also include nearby farms across the Ivel Valley.
New Anglia LEP. Mid Suffolk Planning Authority (Gipping Valley)
The FEZ will develop a business and logistic park in the Gipping Valley Food Cluster to support the development of the local food economy around Stowmarket, creating an estimated 560 jobs. It is one of three FEZ proposals that form part of New Anglia LEP’s scheme to create 95,000 jobs in Norfolk and Suffolk.
New Anglia LEP. South Norfolk Planning Authority (greater Norwich)
This FEZ will form part of larger zone focussed around the Royal Norfolk Showground and the Easton and Otley College to include food production, food research, education and ancillary businesses and potentially the relocation of the Norwich livestock market.
New Anglia LEP. Babergh Planning Authority (Orwell food cluster)
A food cluster will be developed around three existing operators near the River Orwell – the Suffolk Food Hall, the East of England Co-operative Society, and Jimmy’s Farm. It aims to bring more local produce to the market, particularly artisan foods, and to promote food-related tourism in the local area. It also aims to stimulate food innovation and entrepreneurship.
West of England LEP. North Somerset Planning Authority
A new South West Food and Drink Innovation Centre will be created. It will host a business development learning centre, food-grade incubator space for businesses, development kitchens and testing facilities. It will also contain additional space for food and drink manufacturers and other businesses.
York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP. Ryedale Planning Authority
The FEZ will create a thriving agri-food park employing over 500 people near Malton. It aims to relocate Malton’s livestock market to a purpose-built facility surrounded by food and farming-based businesses, with additional space for businesses developing new ideas at the nearby National Agri-Food Innovation Campus. There are also plans for training facilities for the food and farming sector at Bishop Burton College. This will contribute to a thriving A64 bio-economy corridor linking the new FEZ with the York BioHub and the Stockbridge Technology Institute.