Work has started on a £1.2m extension to Ripon’s Canalside Business Park in a key move to safeguard up to 70 jobs in the area.
As a result of planning permission being granted, 45 jobs will be created on the four-acre site with 25 safeguarded at Bill Plant School of Motoring.
The development will also create enough space for Canalside’s owners, Econ Engineering, to expand its hire division and move 400 vehicles closer to its Ripon factory.
Operations director at Econ Engineering, Jonathon Lupton, explained that the four newly- acquired industrial units will be pivotal to the company’s future growth.
He said: “The fact that we were granted planning permission means that we will be able to expand our growing gritter hire business, which supplies local authorities with winter maintenance vehicles.
“We currently have to store vehicles at a number of different sites but this new, landscaped site will enable us to store our entire hire fleet close to the factory.
“Before the expansion we were already over subscribed on two of the lots so that gave us a lot of confidence. It’s great we can offer more employment and opportunity to the people of Ripon.”
The expansion was given the go-ahead after the land adjacent to the business park site, the Econ factory and the sewage treatment works, was successfully changed from agricultural use to commercial.
This development allowed one of Ripon’s fastest growing businesses, Bill Plant School of Motoring, to avoid relocating the company out of the area.
Operations director, Paul Kittrick said: “The new site means that we can store around 50 of our 800-strong fleet there and, crucially, it enables us to keep our business here in Ripon, rather than look elsewhere, as we undergo further growth.”
Mr Lupton admitted that he was relieved the expansion had been granted after the company suffered a turbulent period during the recent economic downturn.
He said: “From 2007-2009 we were unable to fill the available space and we just hoped the current rentors would keep their contracts.
“We didn’t want to try and save money by increasing the rent so we just had to ride it out. Thankfully only one out of the 12 left and we have come through the other side.”
However, Econ Engineering’s plans to build a hotel, after acquiring planning permission more than two years ago, have been shelved after failing to find a suitable investor.
The expansion is set to be completed in March 2015.