The infrastructure works that were completed in 2013 have created an attractive, well-landscaped environment for new businesses and the four development plots that now exist have been kept well maintained and are capable of being promptly developed.
Almost £1 million has been spent on marketing and promoting the site, with initiatives including fixed estate signage, on-site boards, dedicated Haverhill Research Park marketing staff, brochures, websites, logos/branding, targeted and reactive postal and digital marketing, press marketing, events, radio interviews etc, all aimed at identifying and attracting potential commercial occupiers to the Park.
The Haverhill Research Park site was also awarded ‘Enterprise Zone’ status (in March 2016), which gives financial incentives to all companies moving into a new building on the site. The immediate area also benefits from a pub/restaurant and a children’s nursery, and there are other facilities including
a Sainsbury’s supermarket within easy walking distance. It should be a very attractive location for new businesses.
However, despite these attractions, there have been very few serious enquiries from businesses willing to consider Haverhill Research Park, and no transactions have thus far been signed with new tenants or occupiers despite extensive marketing initiatives.
Haverhill is widely perceived as a good location for industrial development, but not for B1(a) or (b) offices – office space generally occurs as ancillary accommodation to industrial uses. The benefits of Haverhill’s proximity to the Cambridge Science Parks are also over-stated and it has not been possible to persuade any Cambridge or Cambridge sub-regional based R&D and office occupiers to relocate to Haverhill, despite its significant cost advantages. The likelihood of the ‘vision’ for the Haverhill Research Park being achieved in the foreseeable future is therefore extremely unlikely, and ongoing maintenance and marketing costs for the site cannot be sustained indefinitely.
The National Planning Policy Framework acknowledges that planning policy and planning decisions need to reflect changes in the demand for land, and local planning authorities are encouraged to consider alternative uses for sites where there is no reasonable prospect of the allocated use coming forward.