Artisan food hub for South Cambridgeshire village will feature microbrewery, cafe and local produce
A business park in South Cambridgeshire will become a new artisan marketplace featuring a microbrewery and pasta producer.
South Cambridgeshire district councillors approved the application from Davison and Co to convert The Avenue Business Park in Elsworth, despite some concerns about the impact on an existing village shop.
A cafe, butchery, bakery are also expected at the new food hub.
The council deferred a decision on the plans last month after questions were raised about a cabinet member being allowed to speak about the plans.
Applicant Anthony Davison told the planning committee on Wednesday (July 12) that his great-grandfather bought the farm in the 1920s and the current plans would take it “back to growing healthy food for local people”.
He said the eventual aim was for everything sold in the shops to be grown locally and said he even hoped to grow avocados, oranges and lemons.
Mr Davison promised the hub would offer educational opportunities about how food is grown and said he was working with the nearby primary school on the subject.
But villagers had wanted the community-run village shop would be affected and suggested any impact on sales could affect its viability.
Cllr Peter Deer, chair of Elsworth Parish Council, said the village was not big enough to support the new food hub businesses on its own, and therefore customers would need to come from further afield to make it viable.
He said the “vast majority” will arrive by car, raising concerns over the volume of traffic in the area, the impact on air pollution and the safety of pedestrians.
Mr Davison responded that he hoped to help support the village shop and “make it more viable”, potentially by selling items from the park to the shop at wholesale price in order to encourage villagers to use it.
He hoped people from outside Elsworth would travel to the food hub, but wanted them to arrive along Cambourne Road rather than through the village itself.
Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins (Lib Dem, Caldecote) highlighted that there had not been any objections to the plans raised by the highways authority and that a condition was proposed to require a new footpath for pedestrians.
She felt the education aspect of the plans would be “very interesting”, and said the marketplace could be “useful for the rural community”.
Cllr Peter Fane (Lib Dem, Shelford) said it was “hard to assess” the impact on trade, but did not think the plans were “likely to lead to the loss of the village shop in itself”.
Cllr Peter Sandford (Lib Dem, Caxton and Papworth) thought the idea of the food hub was “great”, but believed it was “in the wrong place”, suggesting somewhere like Northstowe would be better.
Cllr Dr Richard Williams (Con, Whittlesford) was concerned about the traffic impact and noted there was not currently “clear evidence” to show the majority of goods would be produced locally.
When the application was put to a vote, six councillors voted in favour of approving it, and three councillors voted against.