Food production could be in full swing by the end of the year at a giant new Derbyshire industrial site.
That’s if a planning application submitted by SmartParc gets the go-ahead in the near future.
The company has applied to create a 155-acre, hi-tech food manufacturing campus on the former Celanese site at Spondon.
It will provide state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, start-up incubation units and a potential location for a food manufacturing technology centre of excellence.
The idea is to combine purpose-built food production units and a central distribution facility bringing food producers together on one campus. In the process, it is expected to create up to 5,000 direct jobs.
The company’s ambition is to provide a sustainable blueprint for the industry. This will harness the latest developments such as vertical farming and smart technology to improve production and energy efficiency, reducing costs and increasing competitive advantage for the site’s tenants.
Vertical farming is a new development and is where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides.
Jackie Wild, SmartParc chief executive, said: “We are delighted to take another step forward in our plans to put Derby at the heart of the UK’s future in sustainable, efficient food manufacturing.
“We are liaising closely with local residents and stakeholders to ensure their views are incorporated in our plans to regenerate the site and exploring SME business and university partnerships to bring our collaborative next-generation sustainable food ecosystem to life. We are proud to be partnering with D2N2 and the city council to re-energise the local region.”
Plans for the £300 million SmartParc project were first unveiled last August.
Money towards the project has come from the Government’s Getting Building Fund via D2N2 and there is £12 million to help launch the scheme.
It is hoped that bringing food producers together will reduce food waste, lower carbon output and increase UK food security.
The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30%, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20%.
Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council said: “We are hugely excited to see the SmartParc scheme progressing so quickly and positively. The project fits perfectly with Derby’s future ambitions.
“Its focus on innovation and lowering carbon outputs ticks key boxes in our economic recovery strategy. If planning is approved, it would greatly assist our efforts to diversify the city economy. And, of course, the project would create thousands of new jobs and rejuvenate a previously blighted but strategically important site.”