A multi-million pound expansion at a Lynn food factory is taking centre stage as Britain’s Prime Minister visits the White House .
Mars Food UK, a US-based firm, is extending and refurbishing the offices at its Hansa Road site.
News of the deal was announced ahead of David Cameron’s trip to America. US and UK companies are set to announce trade and investment deals worth more than £1.1 billion creating 1,700 new jobs in the UK.
Plans for a new office facility, which includes an open office space for 70 people, a canteen to cater for up to 100 people along with “wellbeing areas”, were approved by West Norfolk Council in spring last year.
Building work is hoped to begin later this year.
The factory, which creates Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s sauces, currently employs 200 people.
A Mars Food UK spokesperson said: “Mars Food UK is proud to be investing in a multi-million pound expansion plan at our food production facility in Lynn.
“We are currently in the early stages of planning, with site construction to begin later in 2015, but the project is an extremely exciting one which will involve extending, refurbishing and modernising the office facility at Lynn.
“We have been manufacturing from this site for over 50 years and continue our commitment to investing and growing the site which manufactures some of the UK’s favourite family brands – Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s.”
The application for a 1,957 sq metre single storey extension with a pedestrianised entrance and double volume main entrance bay was submitted in March last year.
The design and access statement states that the proposal will create a “dynamic and interactive” office environment, which will be flexible.
It states: “The proposed office facility will be a building that is not only sustainable but will also fully consider the well being of both the factory and office (associate)staff,”
The application stated the building would include: an open plan office space for 70 staff; meeting spaces; circulation / interaction areas and ancillary spaces; “well being” areas with the provision of a new gym, massage room, ‘pool’ room and quiet room to “facilitate health and wellbeing”; canteen areas; kitchen areas; service plant and I T room; changing room and wc / shower areas; and occupational health areas with modern health centre to administer first aid, carry out medicals and private consultation in the medical room.
An application to vary some of the planning conditions was lodged in December.
Welcoming the deal, the Prime Minister said: “Mars is already a fantastic local employer in Lynn with over 200 people employed on the Hardwick Industrial Estate, and this multi-million pound investment will be a further boost to the local community. This is a clear vote of confidence for the UK and our long-term economic plan which is helping to safeguard our economy for the future.”
The investment has also been welcome by West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney.
He said: “Mars has been resident in Lynn for more than 50 years and we are very pleased with the great confidence show in the town.”
West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “This is exceptionally encouraging and positive news. Since 2010 unemployment in West Norfolk has fallen by nearly a thousand, but the really positive news here is that Mars only ever create well-paid and secure jobs.
“This really is an incredibly welcome new year present for West Norfolk.”