Howbery Business Park has bounced back quickly from the pandemic lull, with all office spaces taken again. During the last year, new businesses have arrived on the park while some established tenants have taken on extra office space, refilling vacancies created by the few who left during lockdown. There are now 57 tenants based on the park.
The park believes its sustainable approach is a major draw for tenants, with a growing cluster of companies in that sector. Newcomers to the site in the last year include, for instance, Ecosystems Knowledge Network, an independent charitable organisation that facilitates learning about harnessing the value of a restored environment.
Businesses outside the sector say they too appreciate Howbery’s sustainable credentials, which have been expanded upon over the years and won an array of awards. The park constructed its two flagship buildings, which exemplify best practice in sustainable development, back in 2004 and 2009. It became solar-powered in 2011, and last summer, the grounds maintenance team switched to battery powered equipment that can be charged from the solar park. Howbery installed beehives six years ago, and has a tree preservation programme, lots of bug hotels and wildflower patches. The park embarked on a formal biodiversity programme in 2019, taking initiatives to support a different area of conservation each year – to date bumblebees, birds and hedgehogs.
The ethos of the park fits with the wider goals of its owner, HR Wallingford Group, which aims to create an environment in which people can live and work sustainably with water, through its consultancy and research work. The Environment Agency is based in the other large flagship building, while in the smaller offices, there are other established tenants with sustainable businesses. For instance, JCTR are specialists in environmental impact assessments and delivering large-scale conservation projects, while Wallingford HydroSolutions provides environmental consultancy services focussing on the water environment and develops hydrological tools and techniques that are used as the water industry standard.
Environmentally themed workshops for the park community resumed last summer, including wreath-making and honey extraction. People based on the park can also join the sports and social club, allowing them to participate in the various outdoor activities. Canoes, paddleboards and the Howbery electric boat are always very popular, and lots of teams have signed up for the annual volleyball competition which is starting up again this year. The park, along with the Manor Café, is open for the public to enjoy during working hours.
Estates Manager Donna Bowles said: “The fact Howbery is now full just goes to show that people do wish to be based in an eco-friendly environment, and that going the extra mile on sustainability is worthwhile.
“If anyone is interested in moving to the park in the future, we hold a waiting list, so please do get in touch with me. We are also currently working on a plan to develop the site in a sustainable way – please do contact me to discuss.”