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Willmott Dixon lands agri-food R&D development in Lincolnshire

Willmott Dixon has secured the role to build the University of Lincoln’s £7m agri-food research and development (R&D) facility at Peppermint Park – part of the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) in Holbeach.

The new Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technology, which has been procured via Scape Major Works, part of the National Construction framework, will be the focal point of the new FEZ, which will deliver innovation support services, pioneering research, skills provision and knowledge exchange for agri-food businesses across Lincolnshire and beyond.

Stuart Kerr, operations director at Willmott Dixon, said:

“This is a pivotal scheme for Lincolnshire, and we are excited to have reached this significant milestone in its delivery. The region is at the cutting-edge of the agri-food sector and R&D is going to continue shaping this work, especially thanks to the Centre of Excellence.

“We are extremely passionate about Lincolnshire, and the opportunities it presents for growth and investment. Lincolnshire is an excellent place to do business and we have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline as well as recently winning an RICS award for the Lincoln Transport Hub.”

The facility will build on the success of the university’s existing Holbeach campus, which is home to the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM). It will include microbiology and chemistry laboratories, a high-tech test kitchen and sensory suite, break space, and seminar rooms, and will act as an innovation hub – promoting the rapid uptake of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation and ensuring the UK’s agri-food industry remains competitive.

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of Holbeach and the National Centre for Food Manufacturing at the University of Lincoln added:

“The agri-food sector and its supply chains are of enormous importance to the county economically, and evolving global food markets are creating unprecedented opportunities for both established and early stage businesses as suppliers of innovative new products and technologies.

“This new facility is designed to house a community of leading industrial scientists and their support teams, working to meet the innovation, research and knowledge transfer needs of Greater Lincolnshire’s agri-food businesses.”

A ground-breaking ceremony took place on site this week (16 Mar), marking this phase of construction which will see the building completed in early 2021.

The FEZ will be located next to the A17 and A151 and is designed to support agri-food businesses, with a particular focus on the food technology sector. When complete, phase one of the multi-million pound development will create around 16,000sq m of new business space, capable of supporting over 400 jobs.

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“The Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone serves a sector which is the world’s largest production industry, and this sector is currently enjoying very strong growth. South Holland is the food chain capital of the UK, with 38% of its GVA derived from the food industry, and this is why we are very pleased to be supporting this game-changing, university-led building development on the emerging FEZ site with a grant allocation of £2.4m from the Government’s Growth Deal.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said:

“The new Centre of Excellence in Agri-food research and development facility will help bring employment and further investment to South Lincolnshire. By procuring through Scape Group, The Holbeach FEZ will ensure the project is delivered with speed, efficiency and embedded socio-economic benefits.”

The Holbeach FEZ is funded by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council and the Midlands Engine, with South Holland District Council and the University of Lincoln partners in the scheme.