Posted: 27/03/2015

Government approves six more Food Enterprise Zones

An innovation centre in Somerset and a “food cluster”, encompassing the Suffolk Food Hall and Jimmy’s Farm, are some the new projects in the pipeline after gaining Food Enterprise Zone status from the Government.

The second wave FEZs to get the green light from Defra, also includes schemes in central Bedfordshire, Norwich, North Yorkshire and a second Suffolk “cluster” in the Gipping Valley.

There are now 17 FEZs across the country, all of which are designed to streamline planning procedures for businesses that meet the zone’s criteria, making it cheaper and simpler for them to expand.

The Orwell “food cluster” will be developed by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership 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.

The New Anglia LEP will also receive grants to facilitate a similar cluster project being set up in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley as well as the development of the area surrounding the Royal Norfolk Showground.

Another FEZ will encompass a new South West Food & Drink Innovation Centre that 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.

In Malton, a FEZ will be set up to create an agri-food park and training facilities while the central Bedfordshire FEZ will handle the development of a food cluster that will accommodate up to 30 new businesses over an 80 hectare site.

Local Enterprise Partnerships can apply for Government grants of up to £50,000 to develop a FEZ.

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