Momentum builds at Norfolk food enterprise park
- Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY
A company making mustard and mint products for a major multinational and a vertical farm currently under construction are spearheading a new era of innovative food production at a site near Norwich.
Norfolk’s Food Enterprise Park (FEP) aims to add value to crops grown in the county by processing them and manufacturing products from them - and draw employment and investment to the region.
Landowners Ian and James Alston, park director Clarke Willis and Nick Dunn, head of commercial at letting agents Brown & Co, have been leading the effort as sites are snapped up.
One of the first businesses to invest is Condimentum which is now up and running on site. It uses mint and mustard grown by local farmers - many of whom supplied Colman’s for generations.
It creates superfine mustard flour using a top-grade mill and fresh mint in solution for sauces for Colman's - which is now owned by multinational giant Unilever.
Construction of a five acre vertical farm at the park, which lies in Honingham, is under way. The system grows fresh produce year round in climate controlled, vertically- stacked production layers and will use renewable solar power for power and light.
Work has also started on the Broadland Food Innovation Centre at the business park, which lies within the Greater Norwich Food Enterprise Zone.
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It will consist of 13 food-grade units which will be leased to food producers with a central hub providing test kitchens with business and technical support. These will form part of a 35,000sq ft building on three acres owned and developed by Broadland District Council.
“Work has been going on since 2019 to bring water, power, access and a fast broadband connection to the site so businesses can operate,” said Mr Willis.
The site’s road entrance has been built and a spine road is under construction with connection to the upgraded A47 planned for 2024. A three-acre filtration lagoon will capture surface water and services including mains water, broadband and electricity are in place with work on solar power generation and additional energy supplies to be added early next year.
James Alston said: “Our vision for the site is paying off and we are really encouraged that so many food, drink and agri-tech businesses are seeing the benefit of clustering together and co-locating at the FEP.”
The site consists of serviced plots ranging in size from one acre to 15 acres now available to lease or buy. Forty-six acres benefit from an order which fast-tracks planning consent subject to certain criteria.
Mr Dunn said around 13 acres have already been sold on this basis to different food-related firms.
“With these most recent completions and some really positive discussions ongoing with other potential occupiers, momentum at the FEP is really building," he said.
“The fast-track planning is a real plus, enabling qualifying occupiers an almost immediate start on site. This reduces uncertainty and considerably speeds up the development process.”