Food Enterprise Zone
North Somerset has been successful in being selected, by DEFRA, as a Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ). Essentially this is a Local Development Order (LDO) that will be used to create a simplified planning process for the site outlined below. A key focus of the LDO will be to show how a FEZ can be used to help improve the food supply chain, in this instance across the South West. The aim is to link farmers and producers at the very start of the food chain to food development and manufacturing but also encouraging vital links to distributors and retailers. This will not only bring increased sustainability to the food supply chain process, but will also attract new business to the area, create new jobs and increase economic activity more generally. Currently there are no purpose built food-grade units in North Somerset or the wider region which is preventing indigenous businesses from growing and the area from attracting new food and drink related business.
The 10 acre site that has been identified for the LDO forms part of a 35 acre employment site within Weston Business Quarter, which has been allocated as part of Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA) for commercial development. North Somerset already has a strong food and drink sector, but it is anticipated that the creation of the LDO will create a significant opportunity to attract and develop a cluster of food and drink businesses at Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21 EA) due to its excellent accessibility to the motorway network, Bristol Port and Airport.
The Food and Farming LDO will enable North Somerset Council and partners to bring together a number of propositions on one site, namely FoodWorks, Food and Drink Innovation Centre and additonal adjacent land which will provide essential grow on space for food and drink businesses. This will enable the area to attract larger business looking for more sizeable premises and support smaller companies that have initially been based at FoodWorks to grow and move to larger premises on the same site - retaining their local workforce.
The development of this additional dedicated food and drink ‘grow on’ and development space will support a vital clustering of opportunities for food and drink manufacturers, but also related business including research, development, manufacturing, packaging and logistics in one dedicated area. Together these initiatives will help to develop a solid local infrastructure in North Somerset that will serve the South West. Together these facilities will help to address some of the key challenges that have been identified and will focus on embedding a knowledge driven approach to the production, manufacturing and distribution of quality food and drink products.
The public consultation exercise took place from Friday 27 May until Friday 8 July 2016. You can still view the consultation documents online for further background information. It is envisaged that the once the masterplanning exercise is complete and access arrangements and infrastructure finalised the Local Development Order will be implented in 2017.