A world leading agri-tech research and innovation hub is to be built in Newport – after permission was granted last night by Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning committee.
Ni-Park will be an enterprise and science park in due course creating up to 950 jobs and providing a range of flexible space for technology-focused firms including start-ups, small and larger businesses.
The park will create new full-time skilled jobs and help deliver on the vision to place the UK at the forefront of advanced sustainable agriculture.
Ni-Park is supported by funding through the Telford Land Deal and Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and is supported by Harper Adams University who are world leaders in Agri-Technology research and development.
The scheme is a part of the Newport Innovation and Enterprise Package which recently secured £6.36m funding from the Marches LEP under the Local Growth Fund.
The site will attract investment from high tech businesses, both established and start-ups, and stimulate complementary research and development activity linked with the University.
Ni-Park will encourage supply chain growth across a wide range of companies engaged in new agricultural technologies, benefitting from links to Telford’s strong advanced manufacturing sector. The initial plans for the park were created in 2015.
Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Economic Development, said: “Ni-Park is set to put both Telford and the UK at the forefront of high efficiency agriculture and I am delighted that is has now received planning approval.
“It will serve to bring together agricultural and technical companies where industry experts can collaborate on and commercialise new technologies.
“As a result, Ni-Park will pioneer an epicentre of global intelligence, drive growth and support innovation to help farmers and businesses achieve sustainable productivity in agriculture and processing.”
Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, Dr David Llewellyn, added: “Telford has already been identified as a high-potential opportunity for agri-technology investment by the Department for International Trade, and we are working with companies in the UK and overseas to encourage them to consider Ni-Park as a location for their business. We are therefore delighted to see that the development has been approved by the Local Authority’s planning committee.
“Ni-Park will build on the expertise in agri-technologies at the University, most recently demonstrated in the multi-award winning, and world-first, Hands Free Hectare project which used autonomous vehicles and drones to grow arable crops. The Government-funded Agri-EPI Centre for Innovation in engineering and precision farming also has a presence on our campus. By working with the Local Authority on this latest project we hope to see Ni-Park act as a catalyst for economic development and as a means to successfully transfer the latest technologies into farming practice.”
The Ni-Park site has also been identified as a Strategic Employment Area which will meet the local employment needs and demand around Newport.
Its strong links with Harper Adams University will provide opportunities for leading high efficiency agri-tech research and innovation through the university’s partners and students.