£10m food and drink centre in Weston-super-Mare gets support from businesses
PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 June 2016
Businesses are broadly supportive of a £10million centre dedicated to food and drink being built in Weston-super-Mare.
The new centre, which could be built at Junction 21 by summer 2018, would give businesses a chance to test their new products and use specialist equipment.
North Somerset Council was chosen as one of 17 food enterprise zones by the Government in 2015, and it is hoped the centre will be at the heart of that.
The aim of the centre is to raise the profile of Weston as an area for business, and increase the number of jobs on offer.
It is estimated it will cost £10.7million to build, but the council hopes the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will help to fund it.
However, the land is covered by a Ministry of Defence covenant, which says if the value of the land goes up, it will be able to claw back some of the money.
The council’s report on the centre says a devolution deal would have meant this agreement could have been relaxed – however, the deal was rejected by the council last week.
Five of the top 12 business in North Somerset in terms of turnover are in the food and drink sector, and they have a combined turnover of more than £1billion.
The district also has a higher proportion of employees in food manufacturing compared to other councils in the West of England.
A consultation answered by 160 businesses showed 80 per cent of them felt the food and drink centre would be a benefit for them and the district.
The majority of those answering the survey were from outside North Somerset.
The council’s executive members will discuss the plans on Tuesday and will decide whether to support it, subject to funding from the LEP.
If the plans are approved by the council, and funding can be confirmed, around 140 people will be employed to build it, with work starting in 2017.
It is estimated it could support 500 jobs when it is open, generating £16.8million.
The centre will need up to £300,000 a year in subsidies for the first three years, starting from the 2018-19 financial year.
A council officer has warned that without support for the project, the authority would struggle to raise the profile of the Junction 21 business area.