Laying the foundations to boost a Cornish business

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Multi-award-winning Cornish egg producer and packer St Ewe Free Range Eggs is set to open a new processing facility, creating growth and jobs in both the area and across the wider supply chain, thanks to support from Cornwall Council, the Cornwall Development Company and grant investment from DEFRA.

Tim Dwelly, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Economy and Planning, said: “This is a fantastic example of the Council supporting and guiding a local business to help it take a big step forward.

“The work done here across different departments and in partnership with other organisations will make sure that many people benefit, both directly and along the supply chain, leading to the creation of jobs and prosperity.”

St Ewe Free Range Eggs, based at Ventonwyn Farm, Tregony, which works with producer farms in Cornwall, across the south west and Wales has enjoyed huge growth in recent years.

The company now supplies national retailers and has gone international too, exporting to Dubai and Hong Kong.

This has led to the need for a new egg processing facility as the Cornish success story continues to expand beyond what can be accommodated at its home base.

St Ewe Eggs, which has just added the title of Best Rural Food Business at the national Rural Business Awards to its list of achievements, made a plan for the new facility at Resparveth Farm, Grampound Road, and applied to DEFRA for a grant under its EAFRD Growth Programme towards the capital costs.

 

A number of options were looked at for the new location before Resparveth Farm was chosen and a number of Cornwall Council services worked with the owners of St Ewe Eggs to help deliver their ambitions.

Site selection

Resparveth Farm is part of the Council’s County Farms Estate and negotiations for the sale of the land to St Ewe Eggs was led by Lead Portfolio Surveyor Jonny Alford.

The funds from the sale are now being invested back into the Council Farms estate as part of the delivery of the new 20-year strategy to help improve the productivity and environmental performance of the estate as a whole.

Planning

The EAFRD process required planning approval to be in place prior to submitting an application for a grant. The Council’s Planning and Sustainable Development Service guided St Ewe Eggs through that process to ensure that its plans were in keeping with established planning policy and completed in a timely manner.

Grant application

Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth Manager, David Rodda MBE, with support from Liz Gilbert from the Cornwall Development Company – which is part of the Council-owned Corserv Group of companies - helped St Ewe Eggs throughout the application process to ensure that it could present a strong case for investment, as the bid was being considered as part of a heavily oversubscribed national competitive process.

The grant application for £731,000 has been successful and work is due to start on site soon – creating growth and jobs in both the area and across the wider supply chain.

Bex Tonks, CEO of St Ewe Eggs, said: “We have been hugely grateful for the support of so many in helping us obtain the EAFRD grant, Johnny Alford and his team for the purchase of the land at Resparveth Farm and Martin Woodley and Cllr Bob Egerton with our planning application and subsequent planning development, which was all submitted and approved in the space of two months. 

“All of this was achieved during lockdown, which has been quite extraordinary, and we are so thankful to Cornwall Council for believing in and helping our vision for not only the business, but for the local community, come to fruition. Thank you!"

David Rodda MBE said: “Helping businesses to access the various grants that are available can help to accelerate their growth ambitions and deliver real benefit to Cornwall.

“In this case St Ewe Eggs is creating new employment opportunities in a rural area as well as growth opportunities for the farmers that supply it with eggs and its wider supply chain. This means that the economic benefit of this grant will be felt by multiple businesses.”

Liz Gilbert, from the Cornwall Development Company, said: “It’s really exciting to see this project come to fruition.

“St Ewe Eggs is a Cornish farming success story and this investment will provide a platform for the business to grow and develop long into the future.

“By supporting private sector applicants to navigate the grant application process we are able to maximise the benefits to both the individual business and Cornwall.”

Jonny Alford said: “The breadth and ambition of the Council Farms Strategy requires a blended management of food production, land management focus and estate management.

“The sale of land to St Ewe Eggs enable the Farms Service to support food production, not just on our farms, but on other farms in the Duchy, and supports our ongoing investment in the estate to improve efficient productivity and grow the environmental features on the estate.”

Louise Wood, Service Director for Planning and Sustainable Development at Cornwall Council, said: “It’s great that we were able to work with other areas of the Council, external bodies and St Ewe Eggs to help this Cornish business take the next step in their success story.”

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