Property partnership progresses £200m investment in south east office developments

The Commercial Park Group, a partnership between Sir Robert McAlpine and the John Baker Group, has announced today it will invest £200m to kick-start the development of two million sq ft of new offices across locations in the south east of England.

The investment decision signals the Group’s continued belief in the long-term need for innovative, modern workspaces which promote health and wellbeing, despite the current trend towards remote working that has accelerated due to the Corona Virus pandemic.

The £200m investment is designed to fund a series of office developments in Crawley (next door to Gatwick Airport), Haywards Heath and Bromley. The funds will be focussed on delivering first phases across the three sites totalling almost 500,000 sq ft of offices, as well as associated leisure space, gyms, restaurants, gardens and public spaces for the enjoyment of office workers.

Planning consents are already in place for first phases of schemes in Bromley (Bromley Park), Haywards Heath (Haywards Park) and Crawley (Gatwick Park). The schemes are being designed and master planned by Urban Infill Architects which has been retained across the entire Commercial Park Group portfolio.

John Baker, Chair of The John Baker Group said: “Even before the pandemic, we were seeing workers moving out of big cities to find a better work life balance and, whilst for many years they were prepared to endure long, uncomfortable and unhealthy commutes, they have been increasingly unwilling to make this trade off. Now, the pandemic has both restricted the ability of people to travel to the office and super-charged workers’ re-evaluation of how they want to live and work. It is not possible for us to meet our full potential at work without safe physical spaces that allow us to come together, collaborate and create, but the offices we build have to reflect the needs of workers, both in terms of location and design.”

Ian Cheung, Managing Director for Sir Robert McAlpine UK South, said: “We believe that offices are here to stay but future developments need to reflect the changing nature of how people want to live and work. We believe flexibility is important for future working arrangements, including being able to work at home or go into the office as required, and many office workers prefer to come to healthy spaces that provide flexibility in the office amenity.”

Kate Clark, Director, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) said: “One big trend emerging due to Covid-19 is that workers are increasingly clued up on the science of health and wellbeing and that means they value things like air quality, ergonomic design and green space more than ever. As well as meeting workers’ increasing demands for more flexibility and shorter, healthier commutes, occupiers also need to provide offices that promote physical and mental health. Developments which focus on these aspects will be the workspaces of choice for occupiers and their employees moving forward. The evolution of office working post-Covid should benefit many of the Greater London and South East satellite locations.”