Southend-on-Sea has been a key area of growth for the government, and the local Council has been steadily transforming the area with investment and development over the last 20 years.
In 2015, HBD entered into a development agreement with the Council to regenerate a 52-acre green field adjacent to the long-established Airport, creating a premier business park which would draw on the large local talent pool – a place which today has created hundreds of jobs, driven large scale investment and has played a pivotal role in improving the economic outlook of the area.
Airport Business Park is a great example of true regeneration – a private sector developer working closely with public sector partners like Southend-on-Sea City Council and Rochford District Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and local suppliers. Together we have brought forward significant long-term employment opportunities for Southend; creating jobs, retaining local businesses and giving them high quality workspace from which to grow.
HBD started work here in 2015, delivering the enabling infrastructure across this vast site and putting in a new roundabout, undertaking ground and road works and establishing the utilities. We also future proofed the power supply with dual fibre connections. This all took some time due to the sheer scale of the site and the twin turbulence from BREXIT followed by Covid.
This early stage of the development was delivered with funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership and Her Majesty’s Government Growth Fund – at £23m it was the single biggest Growth Fund allocation at the time, driven by the strategic importance of this site in terms of creating employment opportunities in a largely deprived/under serviced area.
Our ambition was to turn what had simply been a green field into a flourishing, modern business park, creating a bespoke offering for the area. From the start we set out to deliver a compelling proposition which would encourage and enable local businesses to remain in Southend while also attracting new businesses to relocate – creating more jobs, increasing GVA and improving local skills and expertise.
Today the site features a variety of high-quality, manufacturing and warehousing space in addition to an Innovation Centre, known as the Launchpad; 380,000 sq ft of the workspace is complete, or nearing completion.
Its proximity to the airport and the sheer breadth of accommodation and opportunity available lifts the scale of Airport Business Park to not only a national but an international level.
A phased approach to development
One of Southend’s biggest occupiers IPECO Holdings wanted a bespoke new facility at Airport Business Park. HBD delivered a 120,000 sq ft unit which enabled them to consolidate in one location, having previously been operating out of several smaller buildings in the area. That appetite for expansion from IPECO really helped to propel the site to what it has become today. The relationship has strengthened further, and HBD is now delivering a further 135,000sq ft to support their ongoing expansion.
HBD also delivered twelve units at The Quad – an area totalling 68,000 sq ft of industrial workspace accommodation. Units range from 4,315 sq. ft. to 9,860 sq. ft., meeting demand from SMEs looking for flexible, high-quality space within a well-established business location. Competitively priced, these have proven very successful and were offered to the market mostly as freehold.
Among the next stage of development is a 27,000sq ft unit for CAMA’s AssetStore – a facility to store props and film sets while CAMA looks for opportunities to recycle them between film and TV shows. CAMA is relocating to Southend from Dagenham – another great example of inward investment for the local area.
All of the buildings are designed to BREEAM Guidelines and sustainable measures are embedded within the project design.
Supporting the local community
Of course, delivering wholesale change sometimes means coming up with innovative solutions and one challenge we faced was how we could support Westcliff Rugby Club which had been based on the site for many years. Working closely with the Club and the Council we were able to help them relocate to a new site adjoining the business park and local contractors AW Hardy delivered a superb new clubhouse for them as part of our early works.
Sitting at the heart of the site is The Launchpad, a brilliant co-working and networking space for entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-up businesses. Run by Oxford Innovations this incubation space delivers a flexible, contemporary environment for smaller occupiers, a community which really adds to the rich mix of businesses now located at Airport Business Park.
We’re also currently exploring options for food and beverage occupiers to join existing operators on site which include a Costa Coffee drive through, with more to follow.
And we’ve ensured that green space forms a part of our plans; Airport Business Park was created on greenfield and green belt land, and we’ve ensured much of that habitat has been retained and enhanced where possible.
The partnership’s vision was to create innovative, architectural facilities and contemporary amenities within a business spark committed to helping businesses shape their future. By creating new employment opportunities Airport Business Park will help meet the demands of the burgeoning local employment market and attract further investment into Southend-on-Sea.