Derby City Council is poised to agree a package of support worth up to £17.5 million to develop the SmartParc food production campus, bringing 5,000 jobs to the city.
The council’s cabinet is being asked to agree the package, which would support the creation of the £300 million food manufacturing and distribution park on the former Celanese site, near the city centre.
The D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has already allocated a provisional £12 million towards the project from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Now, the cabinet is being recommended to present a full business case to the LEP to secure that funding and to agree to provide up to £5.5 million in direct support from the council itself.
Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, said: “The investment in SmartParc will support the diversification and resilience of Derby’s economy.”
Sajeeda Rose, chief executive of the D2N2 LEP, said: “Subject to the approval of the final business case, the D2N2 LEP’s £12 million investment will support the creation of a world-leading sustainable food-manufacturing facility that will deliver pioneering innovation, create thousands of jobs and transform the local economy.”
SmartParc will bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs, and increasing UK food security.
The campus would include a shared power plant, using renewable sources.
It would be designed to reduce energy consumption, harnessing the latest technology, such as vertical farming, to improve production and efficiency.
A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods to lower food miles.
A report to the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday 10 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.
Paul Old, chief operating officer at SmartParc said: “We are delighted with the progress we have made to date in realising the SmartParc opportunity for Derby.
“This funding will enable us to make a real difference to the way our food is produced in the UK.
“While the country emerges from the pandemic in the coming year, SmartParc will ensure the region and the city is in the best possible position to maximise its potential, attract new investment and create new jobs.”
At the cabinet meeting, councillors will hear how 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 begin before the end of the year.