The Council’s Cabinet is being asked to agree a package of support, worth up to £17.5 million, to enable the development of a new food production campus, that could bring 5,000 jobs to Derby.
SmartParc really wants to create the £300 million food manufacturing and distribution park on the former Celanese site, near the city centre.
The D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has allocated a provisional £12 million towards the project from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Now, people in Derby City Council’s Cabinet are now being recommended to present a full business case to the LEP to secure that funding and also to agree to provide up to £5.5 million in direct support in the authority.
SmartParc’s approach brings food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs, and increasing UK food security.
The campus would come with a shared power plant, using renewable sources and made to reduce energy consumption, and would harness the most recent technology, such as vertical farming, to enhance production and efficiency.
A central distribution facility allows manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods to lower food miles.
A report to the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 10th March says the development has the potential to create up to 5,000 jobs and boost the local economy by between £250 million and £300 million over 10 years.
It would transform a 112-acre brownfield, contaminated site and would support key aims of the city’s coronavirus economic recovery strategy, which is centred on creating business and investor confidence, diversifying the economy, and decarbonising.
It is also in line with the UK Industrial Strategy and aligned using the D2N2’s Recovery and Growth Strategy, which identifies food and drink manufacturing as a key investment priority for the region.
Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said: “A key part of Derby’s economic recovery is tied to instilling confidence for the business community to make investment within our city. The delivery of a scheme of this nature and scope, that will improve our city’s resilience, will act as a great confidence boost to people businesses and investors seeking to generate opportunities within the city.
“The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that as the city has a strength within the advanced manufacturing sector, our reliance upon this is a risk when external factors threaten this sector. An investment in SmartParc will support the diversification and resilience of Derby’s economy.”
Sajeeda Rose, Leader of the D2N2 LEP, added: “We want our region to build back better, bigger and faster to fuel an environmentally friendly economic recovery across the region. Subject to the approval of the final business case, the D2N2 LEP’s £12 million investment, through the Government’s Getting Building Fund, will support the creation of a world-leading sustainable food-manufacturing facility that delivers pioneering innovation, create thousands of jobs and transform the neighborhood economy.”
Once fully developed, SmartParc will result in a significant diversification of the local economy, that is over-reliant on a few major employers, together with creating a significant number of new jobs, from engineers to food processors, underpinned with a new skills academy.
The proposed SmartParc approach is hi-tech and innovative, bringing a 30 per cent reduction in food waste, a step-change in the decarbonisation of the food industry, and an increase in UK food security. An innovation centre is going to be developed in the latter phases of development.
Paul Old, Chief Operating Officer at Smartparc said: “We are delighted with the progress we have made to date in realising the SmartParc chance of the City of Derby. This funding will enable us to create a real difference to the way our food is produced in the UK.
“While the country emerges in the pandemic in the coming year, SmartParc will make sure the region and the city is in the best possible position to maximise its potential, attract new investment and create new jobs.”
Councillors will hear that SmartParc has agreed to purchase the site from Texas-based Celanese, subject to the securing of planning permission and an implementable development plan.
A hybrid planning application has already been submitted, with a decision expected in April. It is hoped that work can commence on the site during the summer, with phase one construction scheduled to start before the end of the year.