PLANS TO position Malton at the epicentre of the local agriculture industry have moved a step closer after it was earmarked to become Yorkshire’s first Food Enterprise Zone by the government.
Under the proposal, food and farming businesses will be offered reduced planning fees to bring forward applications to expand their operations on the site that has been allocated for the town’s new livestock market.
The purpose-built facility is due to be constructed and opened at Old Malton next year and with the creation of the new enterprise zone, plans to make it the focal point of a new agri-food park which will employ more than 500 people, have been handed a boost.
The decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to select Malton as one of six new Food Enterprise Zones in the second round of the initiative came after a bid from Ryedale District Council and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership.
The other new zones are in Central Bedfordshire, Gipping Valley and Orwell in Suffolk, Greater Norwich and North Somerset, and take the total number of Food Enterprise Zones in England to 17.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Food and farming is at the heart of our long-term economic plan and vital to securing Britain’s economic future. This latest round of successful Food Enterprise Zones will help unlock the potential of local food and farming businesses by forging closer links between farmers, manufacturers, retailers and researchers.
“Consumers both here and abroad want to buy great British food and drink. These zones will ensure our entrepreneurs can put great ideas into practice, meet that growing demand and expand this fantastic industry.”
The designation in Malton sees the district council and LEP awarded £50,000 towards the creation of an enterprise zone and allows a local development order to be put in place to simplify the planning process. The move is also intended to attract new businesses to the area.
Barry Dodd, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership Board, said: “This is a great step forward for the Malton area, the new site will provide employment opportunities in the agri-food industry.
“One of the LEP’s key priorities is to support our area to become a global leader in food, agri-tech and bio-renewables.
“The Malton Food Enterprise Zone will have close links to our world-leading work at the Food and Environment Research Agency in Sand Hutton and York’s Biorenewables Centre, which all work towards achieving that goal.”
More than 10 per cent of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding area’s economy is from the agri-tech, agri-food and biorenewables sector, collectively known as the bioeconomy, and the Food Enterprise Zone will support the growth of this industry, Mr Dodd said.
Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for Malton, Thirsk and Filey, added: “This new zone will contribute to the area being the centre of excellence for farming in North Yorkshire. It will revitalise the agriculture and farming sector and is a great vote of confidence for Malton going forward.”
The momentum behind the new agri-food park represents a sea change in fortune for a project dogged by delays. The proposed site of the new livestock market generated fierce local opposition centred on traffic and flooding concerns before the scheme was given the go ahead last August.