Multi-million pound fish park for Fleetwood moves closer

Ambitious multi-million pound plans to create a new fish and food park on Fleetwood docks are due to move a step nearer this week.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 12:34 pm
Fish merchants Patrick Hayton (left) and Andrew Riches study Project Neptune plans

Contracts are due to be exchanged between the various parties on Thursday which will formally pave the way for work to begin on the facility’s construction as part of Project Neptune.

The scheme, which is set for completion in March 2022, will see fish merchants from the town move into ten new, purpose-built units with high spec, ultra modern amenities, including a new fish auction market.

As well as replacing the dilapidated buildings that some of these firms work from, it is believed the project can create an additional 100 jobs to the existing ones in the Fleetwood industry - said to be between 250 and 300.

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First announced in December last year, Project Neptune has been made possible thanks to funding of £4 million from the Government’s Getting Building Fund after Wyre Council was successful in a grant bid, with support from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Andrew Riches, of Kendal Fish & Seafood and president of Fleetwood Fish Merchants Association, said: “This is the best thing to happen to our industry in decades.

“To have this level of investment and the creation of such high-spec facilities here in Fleetwood can only be a win-win situation.

“Things have been moving forward behind the scenes since last December and with the contracts being signed this week, it means a big step forward.”

Contracts will be signed by the respective merchants moving into the units, current land owner Associated British Ports and Wyre Council, which is playing a leading role in the project, and developers Duxbury.

The resulting scheme has been compared to a ‘Billingsgate Market of the North’, where all kinds of fish will be available for sale under one roof.

The new units will be build on land off Dock Road, next to the Fylde Ice premises

Fish merchant Patrick Hayton and his dad Ken, of the Midland Fish Company, were instrumental in firing up the proposals after they approached Wyre Council and docks owner

Associated British Ports (ABP) about possible expansion plans some 18 months ago.

Patrick said: “This industry is still one of the biggest employers in Fleetwood and it is thriving at the moment.

“Trade has been growing again of late and across the industry we are seeing business coming in from ports such as Whitehaven, Maryport and Fraserburgh in Scotland.

“They are bringing their catches across on land but they are aware of the level of expertise in fish processing that still exists in Fleetwood.”

Among the existing units which will be demolished is the old auction hall which dates from the 1970s.

This week, Wyre and ABP release a joint statement about the latest developments.

It said: “We are pleased to be working together to deliver the long-awaited modern food processing facilities in Fleetwood to retain local jobs for the local community.

“The development of the new food processing plant requires the demolition of the existing fish processing facilities including the Fish Market, which is no longer fit for purpose.

“Replacement facilities will be provided for the remaining tenants whilst this first phase of the regeneration of the port takes place.”