HORTICULTURAL firm Suttons Seeds is growing its business with a £300,000 trial grounds project at land near Occombe Farm.
The business, which employs more than 100 people at its headquarters in Paignton, will create seven jobs and apprenticeships at the new 9.43 acre trial ground and packing facility just over the road from the Occombe Farm site in Preston Down Road.
The firm is one of the Bay's biggest employers and the project shows an ongoing investment in the area.
Tom Sharples, Suttons senior horticulture manager, said: "This is an extension of what we are doing at the moment. We will have more growing space and we want to have more community involvement. It is a project which will bring lots of benefits."
The firm currently has its trial grounds at Fermoys Garden Centre at Ipplepen, but it sold the land in 2009 and has been renting it back ever since.
The firm has been looking for an alternative site but it has been an arduous task.
Cecile Cuzenic, outgoing managing director at Suttons Seeds, said the firm had a great deal of support from the Torbay Development Agency which was keen to keep the firm's operations within Torbay.
She said: "Without its support we would not be where we are today."
Ms Cuzenic said a highlight of her three and a half years with the firm was to instigate the new trial grounds.
She said she was 'so pleased' to sign the contract before she left to take up a post as deputy CEO for Limagrain Field Seeds Division.
She will move to the headquarters in Clermont Ferrand in France. She will be replaced by Bernard Bejar.
He is moving with his family from France where he has been working for the Limagrain group for more than seven years in various managerial positions.
He said: "I am very pleased to join Suttons. It is a well known company and I am very happy with what Cecile has achieved and I hope that the big difficulties are behind us so we can enjoy the fruit of our labours."
Suttons will not open the trial grounds to the public this year.
It will instead concentrate on establishing the site, erecting a new vehicle entry, packing shed, glasshouse and polytunnel and water reservoir for the trial grounds. But it hopes to increase public involvement with a wildlife area, teaming up with Bay beekeepers and growing for Occombe Farm cafe and cookery school.
Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver said: "I am delighted Suttons Seeds has decided to re-invest in Torbay, maintaining and creating extra jobs to boost the local economy and retaining many more in this successful operation. Suttons Seeds is a nationally known, European-owned company so we are very keen to nurture this type of operation and ensure Torbay creates the right landscape for re-investment."