Broadland: Food Innovation Centre
Broadland District Council (BDC) has worked with partners including New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities to deliver the 38,000 square foot Broadland Food Innovation Centre. This is part of a wider a food and drinks business cluster, and an ambitious strategy to support sustainable, healthy, affordable and nutritious food production.
Norfolk farms grow more than double the amount of produce than is processed in the county. This means the majority of the food grown in Norfolk is processed elsewhere. Food processing carried out in Norfolk already had an estimated Gross Value Added (GVA) of £650 million, with food marketing and logistics adding a further estimated £285m. Beyond the farm gate, the food chain, not including food retail and catering, generates approaching £1bn for the Norfolk economy. If Norfolk expanded its food processing sector to align with its share of agriculture, it would add another £1.5bn to its local economy.
Working with South Norfolk Council, BDC secured Food Enterprise Zone status and a successful funding bid led to the delivery of a Local Development Order (LDO) on 46 acres of a newly conceived Food Enterprise Park.
The ability to provide planning permission within a set of design principles has encouraged new inward investment, Foreign Direct Investment and growth opportunities for local food and drink businesses. This ultimately led to the new Broadland Food Innovation Centre with specialist innovation support and cluster membership for businesses operating and serving this sector. The support includes access to consultants from a specialist business growth team, and food and drinks experts from around the world.
The Broadland Food Innovation Centre is a BREEAM excellent building offering 13 food-grade premises built to British Retail Consortium standard. It includes a sensory tasting facility, test kitchens and meeting facilities. Eligible businesses have access to a bespoke food cluster and a dynamic purchasing system which provides access to local and global research & development innovation expertise.
This is the first of its kind in Norfolk and Suffolk. It will enable a greater number of small businesses to secure larger contracts without the need to purchase their own premises. The facility will also result in a vast reduction in food miles, removing the need to move goods between Norfolk and the Midlands for operations, such as canning and packing.
Taken together, the Food Enterprise Park is expected to deliver 1,300 new jobs and £61 million GVA per year for the local economy.