A site for sore eyes

Although Howbery has been quiet over the last few months, a small team has been busy at the business park, ensuring that the site is safe, secure and looking good, ready for when more of our community returns.

Technical Services Manager Paul Middleton has overseen general water systems maintenance and statutory inspections, while Estates Manager Donna Bowles has been the main liaison point for tenant queries. Operations Manager Mark Baxter has been responsible for delivering an enhanced cleaning regime and introducing extra health and safety measures for shared buildings.

An essential task for Paul from the start of lockdown was running and maintaining the various water systems to prevent legionella developing in stagnant water. His team weekly flushed water systems in high risk buildings from the start of lockdown and has now extended the regime to all buildings, as more offices potentially re-open. Paul also arranged for samples to be taken from shower areas by a specialist firm to check for legionella, as reassurance. Tests have come back clear.

On the buildings maintenance side, work was pared down during lockdown to legal requirements, for instance carrying out statutory inspections of our 23 space heating boilers, as well as Lift car inspections. The team also conducted the normal routine tests, such as emergency lighting testing and fire alarms. In the grounds, one of our Nurture gardeners kept basic maintenance going during lockdown, but now our other gardener has returned from furlough to get the site looking its best.

With few people coming into the park during lockdown, Mark increased security. Unoccupied building were locked and alarmed. Where tenants wished to access their offices, they were only opened just beforehand and locked up earlier than previously in the evenings. The North gate was kept closed for extra security until 1 June when a higher number of children returned to the nursery.

The pandemic has of course also led to an enhanced cleaning regime in all buildings with all hard surfaces and all touch points (hand rails, light switches, door handles) being disinfected. As some buildings were closed, only three cleaners (instead of the usual nine) were needed on site in April.  Three more have now returned from furlough as tenants trickle back.

In buildings where offices are shared between multiple tenants – Isis, Windrush, Manor, Thames and Stables 4 –  there are new signs advising people to use the kitchen and toilets one at a time and to social distance in communal areas. There is also automatic hand sanitizer and disinfectant cleaning spray in toilets and kitchens.

The catering service has been closed since the start of lockdown but Mark has kept in touch with suppliers and ensured that no food has gone to waste, which has included donating some crisps and fizzy drinks to a charity. He is gauging when enough customers will be back to warrant opening the catering service – in line with government guidance of course.

“Some tenants are slowing starting to return, but we are not encouraging visitors to come on to site,” explained Donna, whose tenant liaison activities have included showing potential new tenants around the site and sorting the post. “Meanwhile, we are all working to keep the site in good shape with coronavirus-secure procedures in place for when more people return.”