Food and drink centre gets go-ahead

A regional food and drink development centre on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare has moved a step nearer, North Somerset Council has said.

Planning permission for the £11m first phase of FoodWorksSW – at the heart of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area – has been granted by the council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for economic development, said: “FoodWorksSW will provide a regional centre of excellence for food and drink manufacturers to help new businesses get started and established producers to innovate and grow.

“Situated within the DEFRA-designated Food Enterprise Zone, it will create around 250 jobs as part of our employment-led regeneration of the Weston area.”

Building work on FoodWorksSW is expected to start in the autumn with an anticipated opening at the end of 2018/early 2019.

Earlier this year the council successfully bid for £9.36m Local Growth Deal funding from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to help fund the £11.3m first phase of FoodWorksSW on five-acres of land within the Weston Business Quarter.

The council report to the Planning and Regulatory Committee said that the development will include “two attractive and characterful buildings with recognisable landmark features such as the yellow freestanding gable frames”.

One of the buildings will provide:

  • Product development and piloting space providing up-to-date commercial grade equipment for food and drink product research and development
  • exhibition, training and workshop space
  • a variety of meeting rooms
  • a café/informal meeting area

The other building will include 12 food-grade business units, targeted at start-up and growing businesses across the South West. More larger business units will be provided as part of phase two of the project.

The report added: “Occupation of these units is designed to be short- or medium-term and users will be encouraged to move on to larger more permanent accommodation once their product becomes established,.

“These proposals will deliver the first phase of a high quality regional food and drink enterprise zone that will encourage the development of new technologies and businesses, creating jobs and wealth for the whole district and beyond.”