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Mon 15th Jul 2013 - Breaking News - Everards set for £25m food village go-ahead
Everards set for go-ahead on £25m food village: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards is set to get go-ahead for a new £25m food village and visitor centre from its local authority. Blaby District Council is expected to back plans this week, on officer advice, for a major complex, the Soar Food and Drink Park, on land between Soar Valley Way and the police headquarters in Enderby, which would include a brewery, units for food and drinks companies, restaurants, parking and sports facilities. It is estimated 300 to 400 jobs could be created. The plan is subject to Secretary of State consideration, but should he choose not to intervene, the local authority is likely to go along with officer recommendations of approval. The plans also include opening up the River Soar flood plain at the rear of the development to more cyclists and walkers, with a new footbridge across the river. The £25 million scheme on a greenfield site has been submitted by Everards, which wants to relocate from its existing brewery on the edge of nearby Fosse Park. The company wants to build a new craft brewery, “brew-pub” and visitor centre on a 13-acre site next to its existing Castle Acres brewery, with access to a further 73 acres of recreational land that is part of the River Soar flood plain. Chief executive Stephen Gould told Propel recently: “If we secure outline planning consent we will look to attract a number of established restaurant operators to work as an anchor for the site and then we will work closely with a number of local food and drink businesses to occupy the site. We are looking for restaurant operators that complement the style of what we are trying to deliver – offering quality, made-on-the-premises food. We want to attract operators who make from fresh, who believe in sourcing food from the local supply chain. We are going to open up the flood plain to the general public for wildlife observation, cycle paths and pony trekking. One of our challenges is that the whole area is designated green wedge. To develop it, we have to offer enhancement: better access and usage for the community, which we believe this does.” The craft brewery will brew short runs of unusual beers and the visitor centre will be licensed to sell Everards beers. Added Gould: “People will be able to connect to Everards, its history and its future and the plan is to have a view of the mash tuns from the visitor centre so it’s a brew pub feel that has visitors at its heart. We also intend to have the offices there and to develop the old offices at some stage in the future. The brew pub would be the flagship Everards’ managed pub with offices upstairs with views of the flood plain.” Everards is looking to find tenants among some of Leicestershire’s other successful food manufacturers and make the most of the county’s reputation in the sector. Due to the scale of the site and the fact it is outside the brief of the Blaby district long-term planning framework, the council is set to refer it for Government consideration. Should the Secretary of State decide not to intervene, planning officers are recommending the development goes ahead subject to certain conditions. As part of the consultation, Enderby Parish Council said: “We approve of the application in the belief a visitor attraction will be beneficial for Enderby village and the surrounding area.” An initial objection by the Environment Agency on the grounds that the site could be hit by flooding has been lifted. Blaby District Council’s planning brief said: “The application includes measures to mitigate the impact of the development on the green wedge. The application includes significant improvements to public access and the use by the public of the site and the adjacent land owned by the applicant. The links to the public footpath network and the national cycle network, which would be delivered as part of the development, are considered to be of overall public benefit. All these elements would retain and create green networks between the countryside and open spaces within the urban areas and retain and enhance public access to the green wedge, especially for recreation.” Martin Peters, managing director of Leicester Shire Promotions, the agency charged with attracting tourists to the county, said he believed it would enhance the county’s attractiveness to visitors. He said: “We started the ball rolling a couple of years ago with the Rural Capital of Food brand in Melton and that is proving a really popular tool. What we have now is a great opportunity to spread that reputation.”

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