A 79-acre business park steeped in aviation heritage, James Appleton-Metcalfe of Citivale explains why the Humber Enterprise Park at Brough prides itself on being both an unusual and a wonderful place to work…
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
The Humber Enterprise Park (HEP) is a unique regional employment and business park situated at Brough on the banks of the River Humber. Owned by LC Industrial, a tie-up between LRE Capital and business space specialist Citivale, the park incorporates over one million sq ft of high-quality office and industrial space and 20 acres of development land.
The site benefits from Enterprise Zone and Assisted Area Status, which offers significant incentives to attract new occupiers. We believe in creating a bright and thriving business community on a superb site, unrivalled in the region.
What kind of workplace do you have?
As a leading business location in East Yorkshire and Humberside, we have a high-quality range of distinctive and recently-refurbished office and warehousing buildings to meet the specific needs of our existing and future occupiers. We cater for companies of varying sizes with office space from 2,000 to 55,000 sq ft and industrial space, with large open storage areas, up to 175,000 sq ft.
We also offer great facilities, including a 24/7 concierge service, on-site management team and a very generous parking ratio, plus superfast broadband, a gym, a brewery, a running track and a heritage centre. So far £6million has been spent on regenerating the whole site, described as “a jewel in the Humber’s crown” with another £1.2 million earmarked for further improvements. It is estimated that 1,600 new and sustainable jobs will be created when the park is fully developed during the next three years.
Is there an interesting history to your workplace?
Yes. We are very proud of our rich heritage. Originally set up by pioneer Robert Blackburn in 1916, seven years after he began his career in aviation, the Brough site would eventually become the hub of Blackburn activities in the UK, going on to function as one of the longest continuously surviving sites of aircraft manufacturing in the world. In its 100th year, the cleanliness, organisation and activity level on the site is a constant source of positive comment by the many visitors from customer organisations, local industry and other parts of BAE.
Meanwhile the motivation by the workforce continues in the proud Brough tradition established by Robert Blackburn himself. Brough was originally chosen for its access to the water for flying boats, excellent transport links to Leeds and a renowned pair of pubs. It gives us great pleasure to be breathing life back into this very special site.
What makes your workplace special?
Its heritage, its location, its enterprise zone status and our multi-million pound investment. The location is perfect; we are a few miles west of Hull City centre and near to the port, very close to the M62, M18, A1M and M1 motorways and within walking distance from Brough Station, which is on the main line from Hull to Kings Cross.
Meanwhile our enterprise zone status means our rents are competitive; for example, a company moving here and taking 5,000 sq ft of space would save over £500,000 over a five-year period compared with other office developments in the area. And, just to underline how special the Humber Enterprise Park is – we were officially opened by the Duke of York, who seemed very impressed by what he saw.
Who is responsible for making your workplace brilliant?
The day-to-day Estate Management at the Humber Enterprise Park is provided by experienced surveyor Peter Melling. Qualifying as a building surveyor in 2004, achieving his Chartered status in July 2011, becoming regulated by RICS in August 2011 and having worked extensively as a facilities management project manager, Peter has been involved in a large range of construction projects, in charge of feasibility studies, large building surveys, concept/full design, contract administration, complete project management and the discharge of legislative requirements.
In addition, he has also had extensive exposure to health, safety and risk assessment on a wide range of construction projects. He is ably supported by his colleague Shane Tidswell. Together they are the eyes and ears of our business park and they make sure that it is consistently brilliant on a day-to-day basis.
What made you want to deviate from the standard ‘desk, chair, kettle’ office setup?
The remarkable history of the site meant that we couldn’t just build a few conventional, bland offices and impersonal sheds. It would have been disrespectful to an innovator like Robert Blackburn to create a business park that was devoid of character. So we have refurbished the offices in dynamic style, naming and branding them after the famous aircraft that were built on site, ie Bluebird, Buccaneer, Hawk, Firebrand and Mercury.
We wanted to create great spaces that would be attractive to businesses of all types and sizes. Distinctive offices, beautiful views across the Humber, green spaces and allotments, upcycled containers for leisure activities, break-out areas and spaces for art, a heritage centre and a gym all combine to make coming to work at our business park an enjoyable and uplifting experience.
How does this affect morale, productivity, staff retention?
It has a very positive effect on staff morale. A recent independent survey of occupiers included the following comments: “24/7 security provides us with real peace of mind”; “the image of our business has been elevated significantly”; “Humber Enterprise Park is a community”; “our new location has expanded our recruitment radius”; “businesses of all sizes can reach their potential by working together”; and “we’ve been able to invest the money we’ve saved on business rates back into the business”.
What kind of reaction do you get from visitors and clients when they see how you work?
They are blown away by how an iconic 20th century aircraft manufacturing base has been transformed into a successful 21st century business park, which has a wide range of occupiers. They are also impressed by the sense of pride and of community which exists here. Meanwhile the stunning refurbishment of the five main offices, with their distinctive branding, reflecting the design and the colours of the iconic aircraft after which they are named, is always commented upon.
Andy Harris, director of Dearing Plastics, who have recently arrived on site, enthused: “We decided to move to the Enterprise Park because we needed premises that had sufficient energy availability for our large injection moulding machines. In addition, the standard of the site had to be such that our blue chip clients were confident that their investment in tooling was safeguarded on our site.
"The attraction of the park’s Enterprise Zone status with no business rates also means that we can channel such overhead costs into investment in more machinery, leading to increased production and more job opportunities. The site is also impressive from a visitor’s point of view and we have already received very positive feedback from those aware of our move.”
How far is too far – have you had to say no to anything?
Not as yet. This site has been driven by a sense of adventure and enterprise for the past 100 years and we have no intention of abandoning that spirit.
What other plans do you have to make your workplace even better?
We have further land, which we intend to develop for industrial use. The next phase comprises 120,000 sq ft, which is now in the planning process, with another 300,000 sq ft of available land to develop in the future. The potential of the Humber Enterprise Park is immense; we feel we have only just started.