Oxfordshire development spearheads business growth

Oxfordshire based business HR Wallingford is extending its premises at Howbery Business Park by 17,000 sq ft with a £3m development, becoming one of the UK’s few businesses to commission new buildings amid a challenging economic climate.Having occupied the park since 1962, the world-renowned civil engineering and environmental hydraulics company’s decision to extend its 275,000 sq. ft. plot reflects a strong period of growth.

Considerable sales of its sophisticated wave-maker equipment and increasing interest in its ship simulation services has seen its turnover increase in all sectors by 10% year on year for the past three years in addition to 65% of its trade taking place overseas. Staff numbers have also increased to over 300 from less than 250 in the last three years.

“Howbery Business Park has proved an ideal setting for our business over the past five decades, so when the time came to expand, extending our premises here was a natural choice,” explains Dr. Keith Powell, Director, HR Wallingford. “The park’s location by the River Thames and strong links with water and scientific study continue to be key factors in our decision to extend our facilities here. Having tenants with shared interests on site, such as the Environment Agency, has also proved beneficial.”

The HR Wallingford building development will extend its Froude Modelling Hall. The extension will house the company’s new 70-metre long wave-current-sediment flume, believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. The unique facility will allow engineers to accurately model the erosion around bridges and other water-based structures. It will also feature an electronics laboratory, where the company’s wavemakers and instruments will be made, and provide a new home to its state-of-the-art ship simulation centre.

“The proposed HR Wallingford extension is testament to the success of this highly regarded scientific organisation,” comments John Ormston, Chief Executive, Howbery Business Park. “The company’s development plans are bucking the current commercial property trend, proving that growing businesses can still consider expansion in today’s economy.”

Originally established as a government organisation, HR Wallingford (formerly the Hydraulics Research Station), was one of the UK’s first scientific organisations to be privatised in the early 1980s. With a 65-year track record of delivering innovative practical solutions to clients facing complex water-related challenges, the company has also been awarded the prestigious New Civil Engineer ‘Specialist Consultant of the Year’ award.

Planning consent for the new development has been granted with construction due to start this month with completion by April 2014. The building extension will include environmentally friendly features such as permeable paving system, which helps alleviate flooding as allows groundwater to disperse naturally into the ground rather than through a piped drainage system into the river.

Howbery Business Park is the UK’s first solar-powered business park and prides itself on taking a forward-thinking approach to creating a contemporary working environment, while ensuring the park’s success remains uncompromised by the recession. Major occupiers apart from HR Wallingford include the Environment Agency and GTI Media.