Representatives from more than 20  organisations and businesses from across the county and further afield made their way to Holbeach on Friday (9th February) to learn more about the Peppermint Park Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) and new residential developments in the area.

The event, which took place at the University of Lincoln's National Centre for Food Manufacturing, included opening words from Cllr Mark Storer, Executive Support Councillor for Economy and Place, as well as updates from Lincolnshire County Council, Kier Services, South Holland District Council and the University of Lincoln.

Cllr Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economy and Place, said: "Agrifood and food manufacturing are of enormous importance to the county. In fact, the food sector is our third biggest sector and contributes £2.5 billion every year to the area’s economy. By developing land for the food enterprise zone, we want to support existing businesses, while also attracting those interested in investing and relocating to the county."

The FEZ will be located next to the A17 and A151 and is designed to support agrifood businesses, with a particular focus on the food technology sector. When complete, phase one of the multi-million pound development will create around 16,000 sq m of new business space, capable of supporting over 400 jobs. The University of Lincoln already has outline planning consent to move part of its existing Holbeach campus to a new, purpose-built facility within the FEZ.

Cllr Davie added: "Following the opening of the new Peppermint Junction roundabouts in Holbeach last December, we're continuing to make steady progress towards building the new Peppermint Park Food Enterprise Zone, which will create new employment space for the agrifood sector in South Lincolnshire.

"Design work for the business park's utilities is under way, and the hope is that, once the University of Lincoln is granted full planning permission for its new Food Centre of Excellence, construction will start by the end of this year."

In addition to the new business park, the county council is also promoting major residential growth on land adjacent to the Food Enterprise Zone, with up to 650 new homes expected to be built to the east of the A151.

SHDC Deputy Leader Councillor Nick Worth, Portfolio Holder for Growth and Commercialisation, said: “So soon after the successful build of the new Peppermint Junction roundabouts, I am delighted that we are keeping our foot to the pedal with the launch of phase one of the Food Enterprise Zone and look forward to seeing the University of Lincoln take pride of place on it, leading the way to further investment on the site.

"It is the key to unlocking the larger project, complementing the housing opportunities on the opposite side of the road and further down the line opening up the whole FEZ site, bringing in much needed investment and highly skilled jobs to Holbeach.

"This is the largest investment in South Holland for many years and the result of excellent partnership working and joint investment from South Holland District Council, Lincolnshire County Council and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.”

The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership secured £2.1 million towards the cost of Peppermint Junction from the Growth Deal which it negotiated with central government. The junction has opened up access to development land located to the east and west of the A151.

A further £3 million has also been allocated from the LEP’s Growth Deal to help create the Peppermint Park Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) which will further support Greater Lincolnshire’s internationally known food sector.

Ursula Lidbetter MBE, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “Our strategy is to double the value of our food and farming industry in Greater Lincolnshire by 2030.

“To achieve this we not only need to help our existing businesses in the food sector, we also need to encourage new businesses to start up. The Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone is strategically located to allow that expansion.”

Local Growth Minister Jake Berry said: “In the Peppermint Park Food Enterprise Zone, we have an exciting Growth Deal funded project set to support hundreds of new jobs and create a raft of new economic  opportunities for the region. Government is continuing to throw its full weight behind supporting Greater Lincolnshire’s internationally known food sector.”