Yet another “job-boost” headline. Owl doesn’t think this is particularly good news except for developers.
As a region and a nation we have very high levels of employment, which is undoubtedly good news. In these circumstances it is not clear to Owl just what the benefits of pursuing relentless job creation actually are. This is the policy of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. EDDC’s Local Plan is also based on a jobs led scenario (which they don’t seem to be achieving).
In Owl’s view this is too simplistic, more jobs do not equate to more prosperity. But it’s an easy measure and, as in this case, a headline grabbing one.
Owl has been told that economic growth (if that is what is meant by increasing prosperity) is achieved by a combination of increases in the number of people in work, how many hours they work, and how productive they are. The first two are often rolled together so that, in simple terms, economic growth is driven by growth in working population and productivity.
The Heart of the South West (HotSW) is set on doubling our economy over the next 20 years. (Owl has reported many times on the lack of realism in this aim.) And HotSW acknowledges that most of this will have to come through growth in productivity, not in jobs. Demographic growth in the working age population, including inward migration, is projected to be really low. Are the Planners aiming at the wrong target?
Of course it is good news for developers, and where would we be without them?
Here is the story:
Burrington Estates revealed its £80m vision to re-invigorate the historic site in October.
A commercial regeneration specialist and luxury homebuilder has bought an historic estate in Devon to kick-start a major project and a huge 2,500 jobs-boost for the region.
Burrington Estates has recently the purchase of Winslade Park, in Clyst St Mary, which is set in 86 acres of parkland on the outskirts of Exeter.
The buy, which includes an 18th century Grade II-listed manor house, is the first step towards plans to provide 150 new homes and 125,000 ft of commercial office space at the heart of a new purpose-built community.
It will also be home to a £5m leisure complex with fitness studios, gym, spa facilities, beauty salons and a swimming pool.
Mark Edworthy, Group Managing Director at Burrington Estates, said: “Our Company’s vision is To Create beautiful living and working environments, build enduring communities and to improve quality of lives.
“Winslade Park provides the perfect platform for us to express our vision as it is a development that will genuinely create an enduring community and improve quality of life of all people living and working in this stunning parkland setting.”
Burrington Estates’ purchase of the site, which has been unoccupied since 2015 and was previously owned by insurance giants Aviva, comes as a result of a major collaboration between key partners.
Former Exeter Chiefs and England international rugby player, Tom Johnson, will run his new personal coaching gym ‘Number 6’ in the manor house under the Tom Johnson Leisure brand and will be consulting on the leisure complex.
Tom said: “We are delighted to be joining the Burrington Estates team to deliver a unique wellness and lifestyle offering at Winslade Park. Health and wellbeing has a hugely positive impact on all areas of life and our aim, together with Burrington Estates, is to ensure that it is as accessible and enjoyable for everyone to get the very best in health and fitness services.
“Be it fantastic personal coaching, a state of the art gym, a spin studio experience, fitness and holistic classes, superb family leisure, outdoor training facilities, health walks, team sports, lifestyle focussed food and drink offerings and many other ways to improve both your body and mind.”
Real estate consultants Lambert Smith Hampton and corporate advisers James Lang LaSalle (JLL) brokered the sale and East Devon District Council provided crucial support for the plans.
Tony Fisher, Head of Exeter Office at Lambert Smith Hampton said: “Winslade Park will be the only campus ‘business community’ throughout the South West, offering staff a truly unique environment in which to work. A country park setting offering 21st century facilities for businesses to attract and retain their employees within an environment which inspires creativity, increased productivity together with wellbeing and lifestyle. “
Council planners have already granted permission for much of the proposed development, with further applications due to be submitted early next month.
The public consultation is said to have completed with ‘immensely positive feedback’ from local residents and reparation and refurbishment work is set to start at the end of March.
Andrew Pearce, Director at JLL said: “Great to see this hidden jewel in Exeter’s and East Devon’s office stock brought back into use. Formerly a gated headquarters site it will be reopened as a placemaking smart office campus to cater for the unsatisfied demand for modern efficient workspace.
“Placemaking is the buzz word in the office sector, whether businesses are looking for WeWork space in London or Business Parks in the regions. Winslade Park ticks all the boxes. This former HQ campus is being restored and revamped and will provide full leisure and gym facilities spa and swimming pool, club restaurant and conferencing trim trails riverside walks and cricket ground and new pavilion for the local club. As well as the latest smart offices”.
Ritchie Watson, lending director at specialist financiers Together who have provided £7m to assist the purchase of the mixed-use site said: “When we first saw the ambitious plans for this mixed-use campus development at Winslade Park we were impressed.
“It will provide fantastic new, luxury homes on the same site as high-quality offices and leisure facilities. In addition, the major project will bring new 2,500 jobs, having a great impact on the wider city and region, and we were delighted to have been able to provide finance to support the impressive scheme.”