Search starts for first companies to occupy Newport’s Ni.PARK
Work on developing a major agricultural technology park at Newport is making rapid progress with phase one of the building programme due to be completed by the autumn.
Telford & Wrekin Council is now gearing up a major marketing campaign to attract new companies to the site, which could support the creation of around 950 jobs over the next few years.
The scheme has been supported by £7.36m of funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) under the Local Growth Fund as part of the wider Newport Innovation and Enterprise package.
Work on the roads and infrastructure around the Ni.PARK site is complete and they have now been officially adopted, while Shrewsbury-based developer Morris Properties is on track to complete the first phase of the 38,720 sqm (416,778 sq ft) construction project.
This will see the creation of 3,840 sq m (41,441 sq ft) of floor space for small business units to cater for agri-tech and enterprise operations. Delivery of this first phase is through the council’s Growth Fund providing 24 units to be retained within the council’s Property Investment Portfolio.
The roadworks also seek to address traffic growth and congestion in and around Newport associated with the new development.
Councillor David Wright, Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “We are already seeing strong interest for the first 24 units that will be completed at Ni.PARK, which will consolidate the borough’s reputation as a national investment hotspot for agricultural technology businesses.
“Phase 1 will be completed this autumn, while a partial handover is due as early as July to help us cater for demand.
“A new marketing brochure has been produced for circulation around the UK and abroad as we attract both leading names in the agri-tech industry and new companies on the cutting edge of new technologies.”
The Ni.PARK site has been identified by the Department for International Trade as an international focus for new foreign inward investment in this emerging sector.
Mandy Thorn MBE, chair of the Marches LEP, said: “We are delighted to see the fantastic progress being made on this hugely important project. It is further evidence of the Marches LEP’s commitment to investing in innovation and schemes which deliver sustainable, high-value jobs.
“This is a flagship development in the agri-tech sector nationally and will bring far-reaching benefits to our region for years to come.”
The scheme has also attracted a £1m contribution from Homes England and the initial infrastructure work has opened up 25 acres (10 hectares) of serviced employment land within Newport with outline planning consent.
Lucy Blasdale Development Director Homes England, said: “It is fantastic that the receipts generated through the Telford Land Deal are being reinvested in such an exciting opportunity. This will provide additional skilled jobs, attract inward investment and secure Telford’s role as a lead location in the sector.”
The collaborative project is supported by Harper Adams University. The continued progress of the University, most recently with the announcement of the UK’s first School of Sustainable Food and Farming, in conjunction with Morrison’s and RAFT Solutions, and the successful Agri-Engineering Centre for Innovation situated on the University’s campus, has created the opportunity to bring high value jobs to Newport through the creation of a cluster of high tech businesses on the new innovation site at Newport, and to strengthen supply chain opportunities and growth of a key industry sector.
Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, said: “It is great to see Ni.PARK reaching the point when the first phase can begin to be occupied to help grow the cluster of agri-tech enterprises that the scheme set out to achieve. It has been a tremendous collaborative effort to get to this stage and we hope that, by continuing to work with the Local Authority, the DIT and the Marches LEP, as well as the business community in and around Newport, we will be able to see Ni.PARK take a lead role in the development of the agri-tech sector, to generate innovative approaches to farming practice, assist food production and improve the management of the environment, in the years ahead.”