PLANS are under way to build a new potato washing facility on land close to Walkers Snack Foods’ main factory site in Leicester.
The food manufacturer intends to expand its operations in the area, having agreed to purchase the 6.4-acre site off Thurcaston Road from the city council for more than £3.5m.
The purchase of the land is conditional on planning permission and developer legal agreements, but providing these are in place, construction of the new building could get under way this summer.
Walkers’ new facility will wash and grade potatoes from farms around the UK in one location, with this centralised operation reducing both the number of transport movements and the amount of water used to prepare the potatoes for processing.
When complete, it will also collect the soil that’s removed from the potatoes and return it to the fields – and, as part of the sustainable process, Walkers also plans to transform leftover potato peelings into fertiliser, using state of the art equipment on site.
The new facility is expected to create more than 40 new jobs.
As part of the terms of the land sale, a new estate road will be constructed to serve the new plant and open up access to adjoining land owned by the council at Ashton Green, creating future employment opportunities. The £2.25m road – which would be paid for by the city council – would include provision for cyclists and pedestrians too.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Walkers Snack Foods are a long-established and important employer, so I’m delighted that this agreement will help them expand and consolidate their operations in Leicester.
“This site at Ashton Green is within an area allocated for employment land in our local plan and Walkers have offered us a very fair price, so it’s a great deal for Leicester on every level.
“The new facility will operate sustainably and create new jobs, while the new estate road will help us unlock the potential of further development land at Ashton Green that will lead to many more jobs for local people.”
Leicester City Council is the principal landowner and promoter of Ashton Green, a sustainable urban extension to the north of Leicester comprising 320 acres of greenfield land. When complete, it will provide up to 3,000 homes, employment land, retail space and around 13 acres of green space.