Work on a food and drink innovation centre, the only one of its kind in the South West, has started near the motorway junction in Weston-super-Mare.
A ground-breaking ceremony took place this week (Wednesday 5th December) to mark the start of work on site.
Situated in the heart of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area, The Food WorksSW is due to open in spring 2020. It will provide a range of specialist facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the region and will include:
- 12 food grade business units to lease
- four product development areas
- conferencing, training and workshop space
- meeting rooms and a café.
“Food Works will be a focal point and regional centre of excellence for food and drink businesses across the South West,” said Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economic development.
“It will help new businesses begin their journey and more established producers to innovate and grow. As well as on-site support and advice for new start-ups and established producers, the centre will also provide space for education and training in food and drink production.
“It will create around 250 new jobs and will play a vital part in the council’s bid to drive growth in the North Somerset economy.”
The scheme is funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund.
Professor Steve West, Chair of the West of England LEP, said: “This is an exciting development for the region’s food and drink industry. There is no other centre in the region that provides the facilities and services that will be offered by Food WorksSW. It will give new businesses and established producers the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, identify new markets, create new jobs and grow.”
The £11.3m contract to build the centre is being carried out by Willmott Dixon.
Richard Jones, Director Willmott Dixon, said: “This is an exciting project for Willmott Dixon to be involved in, and we look forward to bringing the vision for this building to life. We know that, once complete, it will further strengthen the South West as a hub of food and drink innovation.”
With work on site now under way, the council is in the process of appointing an operator to run the centre. A 15-year contract is due to be awarded in March. This will give the operator the opportunity to sign up occupiers and take bookings for the centre in readiness for when it opens in spring 2020. The operator will manage all aspects of The Food WorksSW on the council’s behalf.