Land close to Walkers Snack Foods’ main factory site in Leicester is being earmarked as the location for a potato washing plant after the company agreed a £3.5m purchase of the 6.4-acre site near Thurcaston Road with the city council.
The sale, which could bring at least 40 jobs, 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 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.
As part of the terms of the land sale, the council will fund a £2.25m estate road to serve the new plant and open up access to adjoining land owned by the council at Ashton Green, creating future employment opportunities.
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.”