An ambitious £2.3m food hall and market garden is being planned at the Norfolk Showground outside Norwich.
The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) has revealed plans for its flagship project to showcase the county’s celebrated food and drink producers.
It includes a shop, café, butcher and delicatessen, along with an outdoor seating area and a two-acre market garden which would be the base for a community growing project.
The RNAA, which also runs the Royal Norfolk Show, said the proposals are part of a drive to maximise “the full potential of the showground, as a place where people go for enjoyment and to connect with food, farming, and the countryside”.
Managing director Mark Nicholas said the overall cost is estimated at £2.3m, including the 8,000sq ft new building, which will be open all year round.
“The Norfolk Food Hall and Market Garden is going to be a flagship destination for the sale of Norfolk food and drink produce,” he said.
“It is going to be a ‘super farm shop’, but it is going to be much more than that. It is going to be blended into the surroundings of the showground, there’s going to be a café operation as part of the building, and we are going to put in place a community fruit and veg growing scheme.
“So you can come to the Norfolk Food Hall, you can park, go and buy really nice Norfolk food and drink, have a cup of coffee or meet someone for lunch, and you can get involved in a community growing project all year round.”
The announcement follows the publication of annual accounts which showed that the sale of a former showground car park to Persimmon Homes, had helped the RNAA record a financial surplus of almost £3.2m in 2021 – with a promise that funds would be reinvested in improving facilities at the showground.
The RNAA says the project will create employment and education opportunities, and the building design will be “well related to the character of the showground and that of the wider rural landscape”.
The proposed location is inside the entrance gate at the north-eastern corner of the showground, close to the A47 junction.
The RNAA has launched a consultation to gather public views on the proposals ahead of a formal planning application, expected in mid-May. Evidence of strong local support will enhance the potential of a successful planning application and will be helpful for grant funding applications.
The consultation website at www.bac-consultation.co.uk will be open until 5pm on Friday May 6.