It is more than 18 months since the County Times exclusively revealed Liberty Property Trust’s proposals for North Horsham. The following is an update from Liberty on the developer’s plans for the site north of the A264.
Liberty Property Trust’s proposals for North Horsham build on its longstanding track record of bringing forward other larger high quality developments in the UK.
The plans envisage a mix of residential development, commercial buildings and community facilities, along with a new railway station, schools, food retail, leisure and extensive open space. Although it would have its own identity, the new mixed-used community would be closely linked to the existing centre of Horsham, strengthening the local economy.
If the site was allocated by Horsham District Council and permission given for development to take place, it is intended that a substantial part of the site would be woodland and wetland areas in addition to the space given over to green infrastructure and outdoor recreation.
Commercial property would be an important part of any future development brought forward by Liberty. Designed to house both existing local business in new, modern accommodation and also to attract companies from outside the area, this element of the proposed scheme would offer the potential for 2,500 to 3,000 jobs on site.
We believe that having a major new business park at North Horsham with the type of high quality accommodation that Liberty has provided elsewhere in the country would be important for the future health and growth of the local economy. Not only would it be a valuable resource for local businesses but it would offer companies looking to move to the area the option of securing world class accommodation. The new business park would put Horsham in a strong position to take advantage of the gradual improvement in the economic situation and provide a much-needed source of employment for local people well into the future. If allocated, it is envisaged that the site would be developed over the District Plan period to 2031.
Liberty is a long-term investor. Construction at Liberty’s 800 acre Kings Hill development in Kent began in 1990 and continues today. The former airfield is now home to around 7,000 residents and more than 200 businesses employing some 5,500 people – two jobs for every house that has been built. It combines commercial, residential, educational, retail, community, sports and leisure uses in a highly landscaped low density environment.
Many valuable lessons learned at Kings Hill will be useful in the development and masterplanning of the North Horsham project, helping to ensure a high quality project that meets the needs of local people and creates an outstanding place for people to live, work and relax.
Liberty has a reputation for being more than a masterplanning developer, and prides itself on being a “place maker”. Independent research by international real estate consultants CB Richard Ellis cited Kings Hill as the number one example of “place making”.
For example, the housing area is carefully designed to provide a mix of housing styles and sizes to reflect a traditional village. The residential area is separated from the commercial area by judicious landscaping but linked via foot and cycle paths, making it easy for people to live and work on site without having to get in a car to do so. Liberty’s mission statement is to enhance people’s lives through extraordinary work environments and its investment in quality and the ongoing maintenance of Kings Hill bears testimony to this aspiration.
As well as the care and attention paid to the design, buildings and landscaping, public art is a significant part of Liberty’s ethos.
There are many sculptures and works of art at Kings Hill and every two years Liberty and Kent County Council make an award for the best pieces of public art created in Kent within that time, an initiative that began in 1994.
Community events are also important. For example, Kings Hill recently hosted a special commemorative event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, led by Guy Gibson, who was based at RAF West Malling (now Kings Hill) in 1941. The event attracted hundreds of local residents and culminated in a flypast by a Spitfire.
Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd is also developing Didsbury Point business park in Manchester – www.didsburypoint.com – and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – www.cambridgebiomedicalcampus.com.
The latter has just been chosen by AstraZeneca as the site for its new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters. The ￡330 million purpose-built facility will be home to a highly-skilled workforce of approximately 2,000.
In May, the Medical Research Council’s new 270,000 sq ft Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge Biomedical Campus was opened by Her Majesty the Queen. Other planned developments include a 400,000 sq ft, 300-bed, purpose-built facility for world famous Papworth Hospital. Liberty has a track record of enabling high quality developments that are valued by and integrated with the local community. That is our vision for North Horsham too.
Pictured here, an impression of the style of commercial building that Liberty is aiming for at North Horsham.