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East Malling Advanced Technology Horticultural Zone


Approval Status


Fully Approved

Delivery Status


LGF Project Delivered

Project Completion Date


Spring 2022

NIAB EMR in partnership with the East Malling Trust proposes to develop an Advanced Technology Horticultural Zone at East Malling, which will be the first step towards delivering the vision of a cutting-edge Innovation Campus for horticulture in Kent. The campus will secure the long-term delivery of world-class research, innovation and knowledge exchange for the UK horticultural industry.

The LGF funding will be used to provide the new infrastructure that is required for the Advanced Technology Horticultural Zone (utility services, drainage, groundworks) and will see the construction of a new energy centre that meets the needs of the Zone. It will also provide the first state-of-the-art glasshouse. The project will use advanced greenhouse designs which will host high-tech imaging, robotics, precision irrigation rigs, LED lighting and CO2 systems with the purpose of advancing horticultural agronomy in the region. This facility will
allow an increased level of innovative research projects and best practice demonstrations to be delivered in a commercially relevant setting.

Accelerating investment at East Malling will ensure that NIAB EMR and its partners remain at the cutting edge of research and innovation. Access to the most advanced facilities is essential to attract and retain high-calibre staff, provide the ‘knowhow’ that is needed by industry to deliver sustainable growth and productivity gains, and ensure that Kent and Medway remains a world-class leader in horticultural innovation and drives the sector to enhance the provision of fresh produce.

The project will generate upwards of £570,000 per annum in additional research and development spend in the region, creating 14 new knowledge-based and highly skilled jobs in addition to safeguarding 40 jobs at NIAB EMR.

Funding approval

The project was considered by the Accountability Board on 3rd July 2020 and the decision was made to approve the award of LGF funding to the project, subject to the following funding condition being met:

  • receipt of written confirmation being received by the SELEP Secretariat to confirm that match funding has been secured either through land sales at the required price or through confirmation that a commercial loan is a viable alternative to enable delivery of the project.

Written evidence has now been received by the SELEP Secretariat to demonstrate that the above funding condition has been met.

Award of additional LGF funding

The LGF COVID-19 response fund was established to support those existing LGF projects which were experiencing a funding gap due to cost increases or loss of local funding sources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new LGF project pipeline, consisting of existing LGF projects, was agreed by the Strategic Board in December 2020 and will be used as the basis for awarding all currently unallocated LGF funding.

This project was included on the new LGF project pipeline and the award of an additional £0.315m LGF was approved by Accountability Board on 12th February 2021.

Capital Programme delivery update

Take a look at our update on the delivery of the Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Growing Places Fund (GPF) capital programmes.

SELEP Capital Investment Programme

£579m of investment to East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock

In total the SELEP Growth Deal with Government has brought £579m of investment to East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal (2015-2021) we aim to deliver 78,000 jobs and 29,000 homes across the SELEP area, with the Deal set to attract a further £960m of investment into the South East over the six year period.

Find out more here
Funding value: £1,998,600
Total Project cost: £5,358,000
Return to Capital Investment