Plans to create an artisan food village in North Cornwall have taken a big step forward after being granted special planning status by Cornwall Council.
The Norton Barton Artisan Food Village near Bude has been made the subject of a Local Development Order (LDO) which will streamline the planning process.
LDOs are designed to encourage investment in economic growth and job creation. They allow certain types of development within a defined area, without the need for further planning permission.
Norton Barton is one of two sites in Cornwall chosen last year by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to participate in the Government’s Food Enterprise Zone pilot project. The other is at Trewithen Dairy near Lostwithiel where a separate LDO is currently being progressed.
There are 17 such zones planned across the country, each aimed at fast-tracking the growth of food-related businesses.
Norton Barton is already home to a number of small artisan food producers including Cornish Charcuterie, Whalesborough Cheese, Popti Cornish Bakehouse and North Coast Cider.
Richard Harding, who founded Norton Barton with his wife Fionagh, said: “This is great news because it basically gives us a blueprint to grow the food village for the next 15 years without the need to obtain separate planning permission for each stage.
“That means that existing businesses can expand on the site and it increases the attractiveness of Norton Barton to other food producers looking to locate and invest here. It also means we can react quickly to opportunities as they arise and will be more attractive for external funding.”
The Artisan Food Village aims to support small and start-up food businesses by providing an environment in which they can thrive. It will include small production units, office space, a visitor and education centre, some visitor accommodation and joint services like sales and marketing, book keeping, product development and training.
Over the next 15 years between 30 and 40 jobs are expected to be created with 26 businesses benefitting directly and a further 18 indirectly.
Funding to draw up the LDO came from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Cornwall Council. It followed a successful bid by the LEP, Cornwall Council, the Cornwall Agri-Food Council and Cornwall Development Company for £50,000 of funding to explore the use of LDOs to underpin the creation of Food Enterprise Zones.
Julian German, Economy Portfolio Holder at Cornwall Council, said: “Agriculture is at the heart of the Cornish economy and quality food and drink is part of the region’s globally recognised brand. What Richard and Fionagh have created at Norton Barton is very impressive and I’m delighted Cornwall Council has been able to play a part in supporting them. I look forward to watching the Artisan Food Village go from strength to strength and contribute to the growth of the Cornish economy.”
Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “Food and drink is worth over £1.5 billion to the Cornish economy and employs 11% of the population so it is a crucial sector. We want to help those business raise their productivity and grow, and this initiative is an excellent example of that.”
Before a LDO is granted it is consulted upon and robustly tested to ensure that the development it permits is both appropriate and does not give rise to unacceptable or harmful impacts. The LDO at Norton Barton relates only to agri-food businesses and it imposes conditions about the scale of development that will be permitted.