From the Wells Journal 5th May 2016

“The buyer of the former Dulcote Quarry has cooked up tasty plans to bring up to 300 jobs to the area. Charlie Bigham, who founded quality food producers Bigham's 20 years ago, has emerged as the new owner of the site between Wells and Shepton Mallet.

He hopes to build the first of up to four large new kitchens by the middle of next year, and create between 120 jobs and 150 jobs in the process.

But that's just the start of a long-term vision that Charlie has for the former limestone quarry, which has long been earmarked by Mendip District Council as a key future employment site.

Over the next 15 years, he wants to put up another three buildings, with a total workforce of between 250 and 300, as well as carrying out some high quality landscaping in order to create an exceptional campus-style working environment.

And he is especially keen to ensure Bigham's is seen as a good neighbour and becomes part of the community.

"We're coming here for the long term and we're very excited about it," said Charlie, who lives near Stourhead.

"We're interested in the opportunities it gives us to become integrated into the community.

"We want to be very sensitive in how we're perceived, both in terms of the sensitivity of the site itself and in the immediate environment of the quarry.

"There are some small villages nearby – we want to be respectful of all that."

Bigham's supplies top end meals to retailers including Waitrose, Budgens, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Ocado and the business is growing at a rate of around 25 per cent a year, success that Charlie puts down to two things: changes in people's lifestyles and, most importantly, the great taste of the food they produce.

"Our dishes are made with the same pride and care and passion as you would at home," said Charlie.

The company currently has its base at the vast Park Royal business park outside London, where around 300 people are employed and which it will retain.

"We've run out of space," said Charlie. "So we've bought the site at Dulcote. We've bought somewhere with plenty of room, plenty of space to grow – it's 20 acres."

Feilden Fowles Architects have been working on the scheme for six months already – with an emphasis on offering staff plenty of natural light, space to breathe, contact with nature and interaction.

The building will be environmentally friendly, with solar panels on the roof, and will not be visible from outside the site.

"We're creating an amazing place," said Charlie.

"It's a fantastic building, and once all the landscaping is complete, the site will have a campus feel to it which reflects my philosophy of always taking a long-term view and that creating a high quality work environment is a great investment.

"We didn't want a generic industrial park."

Charlie hopes to bring between 20 and 30 people down from the London operation to Dulcote and the remaining jobs will all be new and include roles at all levels – from office-based accountants to engineers to people who have worked in other food businesses. He is keen to hear from anyone interested in joining his forward-thinking team.

"We want people who have a great attitude and want to join a business with a strong set of values for the long-term, whatever they have done before," said Charlie.

A detailed planning application for the first building will shortly be submitted, as well as another outline plan for the whole site.

The brownfield site has already been granted outline planning permission for employment uses and was first approved for a business park back in 2010.

If you want to work for Bigham's at Dulcote, contact Charlie on charlie@bighams.com.”

Into Somerset: A further news story will be added when there are more developments. The food and drink sector in Somerset is a major player in the local economy, with a range of artisan and nationally known brands produced in the County. As a consequence there is significant networking to mutually beneficial ends, product innovation, and a pool of trained and qualified staff which is drawn upon. No doubt this development will tap into all of those ingredients.

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