Work has started on the first building which will see Stoneleigh Park transformed into an internationally-renowned centre for agriculture, rural business, science and innovation.
LaSalle Investment Management, which manages the Stoneleigh Park estate under a 150-year lease from the Royal Agricultural Society of England, has started to create a new state-of-the-art home for leasing to the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB).
The AHDB – a statutory body which improves the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of agriculture and horticultures sectors – employs around 280 staff in three separate buildings on the Stoneleigh Park site.
The six divisions of the AHDB came to Stoneleigh Park from different locations in late 2008, and will move into the new 30,000 sq ft building when work is due to be complete in around 15 months.
LaSalle, which took over the management of Stoneleigh Park two years ago, has outline permission for a masterplan which will transform the site over a 15-year time span.
Colin Hooper, Stoneleigh Park Estates Director, said the new £5 million building is one of the first tangible signs of the masterplan becoming reality.
He said: “The AHDB recognised that Stoneleigh Park was the ideal location to bring its six divisions together under one roof for the first time– and the roof is now being provided!
“The organisation carries out research and knowledge transfer in its various sectors and that is perfect activity to be based at Stoneleigh Park.
“We have worked closely with the AHDB to design a building which will suit not only their business needs, but also suit the Park. Elements such as the use of local and natural materials will reflect its setting and location.”
Stoneleigh Park is part of the Business Environments for Science and Technology (BEST) Network, the largest privately-owned portfolio of science and technology parks in the UK, and Hooper added that was key to its future development.
He said: “We have exciting plans to help transform Stoneleigh Park using its standing in the farming and rural industry world, making the most of its location, improving the infrastructure and attracting new tenants.
“Being part of BEST Network will only help that happen, and it will be a major plus for all the businesses and organisation based here.”
AHDB Chief Executive Tom Taylor said: “This is a significant milestone for us because, when built, it will enable all our people on this site to be in the same building for the first time.
“Moving them into this single modern facility will help our teams to work together more effectively, as well as reduce our energy costs and carbon footprint.”
AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain.
Its operations are focused through six branded operating divisions covering about 75 per cent of total agricultural output in the United Kingdom and cover pig meat, beef and lamb, horticulture, milk, potatoes and cereals and oilseeds.