Howbery Business Park near Wallingford has bounced back from the pandemic lull, reporting 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.
Howbery’s sustainable credentials have also won 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. 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.