Council asked to agree support package to secure 5,000-job scheme

Published: 2 March 2021

Artist impression of SmartParc building

SmartParc wants to create the innovative £300 million food manufacturing and distribution park on the former Celanese site

The Council’s Cabinet is being asked to agree a package of support, worth up to £17.5 million, to enable the development of an exciting new food production campus, which could bring 5,000 jobs to Derby.

SmartParc wants to create the innovative £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, members of Derby City Council’s Cabinet are 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 authority.

SmartParc’s revolutionary approach 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 and designed to reduce energy consumption, and would harness 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 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 ten 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 with the D2N2’s Recovery and Growth Strategy, which identifies food and drink manufacturing as a key investment priority for the region.

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, which will improve our city’s resilience, will act as a great confidence boost to those businesses and investors seeking to generate opportunities within the city.

Said Cllr Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that whilst the city has a strength in the advanced manufacturing sector, our reliance upon this is a risk when external factors threaten this sector. The investment in SmartParc will support the diversification and resilience of Derby’s economy.

Sajeeda Rose, Chief Executive of the D2N2 LEP, added;

We want our region to build back better, bigger and faster to fuel a green 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 will deliver pioneering innovation, create thousands of jobs and transform the local economy.

Once fully developed, SmartParc is expected to accommodate up to 5,000 jobs. The project will result in a significant diversification of the local economy, which is over-reliant on a few major employers, together with creating a significant number of new jobs, from engineers to food processors, underpinned by a new skills academy.

The proposed SmartParc approach is extremely hi-tech and highly 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 will 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 opportunity for the City of 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.

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 begin before the end of the year.

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