Food Enterprise Park at Easton close to signing major ‘anchor tenant’

PUBLISHED: 15:30 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:57 24 January 2018

Clarke Willis MBE, former chief executive of Anglia Farmers, is now part of the Food Enterprise Park project at Easton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Clarke Willis MBE, former chief executive of Anglia Farmers, is now part of the Food Enterprise Park project at Easton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

The planned Food Enterprise Park (FEP) outside Norwich is close to securing a major “anchor tenant” which could kick-start the development.

The proposed Food Enterprise Park at Easton. The proposed Food Enterprise Park at Easton.

Former Anglia Farmers chief executive Clarke Willis, who is now working on the FEP project at Easton, said the planned 47-acre food chain and agri-business hub is now “open for business” after securing a Local Development Order (LDO) from Broadland Council in October.

“I am hoping that in the next few weeks we are going to be able to announce an anchor tenant that will kick-start the development,” he said.

Mr Willis said he was unable to confirm which business is involved in the negotiations, but said the main objective of the FEP is to generate growth in food and drink-related industries, including the agri-tech and food processing sectors.

He was speaking at the Broadland Business Forum, a breakfast meeting held at the Fur and Feather in Woodbastwick, run by the Woodforde’s brewery.

Guests were also told that the FEP site, south of the A47 and west of the village of Easton, would be accessed from a new roundabout off the widened dual carriageway when the government’s programme of road improvements are completed, due in 2021.

Mr Willis said the enterprise park aimed to address the shortfall between East Anglia’s strength in farming production – generating 21pc of the UK’s wheat, 22pc of its potatoes, 65pc of its sugar beet and 19pc of its poultry – and the region’s relative weakness in food processing.

“We are an important farming region and we punch above our weight in terms of primary production,” he said. “But we are very poor at taking primary products and processing them into products that people understand.

“Something like 6pc of the UK’s primary production is in Norfolk, but we only process 2.4pc of that. If you take Wissington and Cantley (Norfolk’s two British Sugar factories) out of that it would be far less.

“Yes, we can bag up carrots and potatoes, but if you think about prepared salads and ready meals, in this part of the world we are quite a way away from those. And a lot of potatoes form this areas go to the Walkers crisps factory in Leicester.”

Details about the plans, and the Local Development Order which grants permission for specific developments within the site without the need for occupiers to submit planning applications, can be found at the Food Enterprise Park website.

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