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14 June, 2016 - 10:08 By Kate Sweeney

Public showcase for proposed global AgriTech research nexus

A public exhibition showcasing plans for the UK’s first purpose built international AgriTech business park, incorporating synergistic life sciences – proposed for land at Hinxton, Cambridge – is being held over three days on June 30, July 1 & 2.

The exhibition at Hinxton Village Hall will share developer SmithsonHill’s vision for the historic nexus. 

The park would reinforce Cambridge and the UK’s position as a global leader in a drive to develop innovative business ideas which use new technology to create a more productive and sustainable food system from the field to the plate.

SmithsonHill managing director Emma Fletcher (pictured) said: “Global projections are that we need to grow between 60-100 per cent more food per annum to 2050 to meet the increase in population (+36 per cent) and changes in diets as people have the wealth to eat a greater range of foods and seek greater choice.

“This is against a backdrop of climate change, losing land to urbanisation and through environmental degradation. The only way to deliver the food needed without destroying the planet is through more efficient production and supply chains – a role which the AgriTech sector is determined to fulfil.”

The AgriTech nervecentre is planned for SmithsonHill’s land at Hinxton – east of the A1301 and south of the A505. The public exhibition is part of the venture’s ongoing engagement with the local community and key stakeholders to highlight emerging proposals and follows a meeting with representatives of the local parish councils last November and a workshop/exhibition on the County Council’s draft transport options for the A1307 corridor in April and May 2016.

SmithsonHill is a joint venture between Russell Smith Farms and Hill Commercial Investments. The enterprise combines local knowledge, land, innovation and development expertise to develop collaborative environments to support and enhance Cambridge’s global reputation for innovation.

Fletcher said: “We specifically work on projects that are respectful of available resources and how we can make the most of them. Our partnership looks to facilitate initiatives that will create hubs for groundbreaking discoveries – bringing together and encouraging interaction and the exchange of knowledge.

“Working with local communities from the start we want to form close relationships to ensure key concerns are addressed and improvements are made around significant items such as infrastructure, transport and biodiversity.

“From first hand research we have identified a specific need for a new site for AgriTech and associated life sciences in the East of England and have assembled a team of leading companies to bring the necessary skills to support the joint venture and investigate this further.

“Our ambition at SmithsonHill is to:-
• Bolster the East of England as the foremost region in the UK for AgriTech, building on the established reputations of Cambridge University, the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor, the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc, the East of England’s agricultural heritage and the clusters of science parks in and to the south east of Cambridge
• Build the UK’s first national and international hub focused on the advancement of AgriTech and associated businesses
• Facilitate the conditions for knowledge transfer from research to industry tackling some of the world’s most pressing resource challenges.”

The Exhibition
A review of the current environment at and around the site started in 2015 and is ongoing. The review work to date has taken the form of a series of technical studies, in parallel with consultation with representatives of the local parish councils and other stakeholders to identify key areas of concern that should be addressed as part of the development proposals. 

SmithsonHill will be sharing these details at the public exhibition as well as providing more information on some of the key principles that are informing the overall proposal. 

It is seeking feedback from councillors, businesses, interest groups and residents to inform the master plan ahead of consultation on the proposals in Autumn 2016 and submission of an outline planning application to South Cambridgeshire District Council in late 2016/early 2017.

Public Exhibition Details
Venue: Hinxton Village Hall, 51 High Street, Hinxton, CB10 1QY

Thursday 30th June 4pm – 8pm
Friday 1st July 2pm – 8pm
Saturday 2nd July 10am – 2pm.

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