Property pioneer John Baker to develop £2bn of offices in South East England


Renowned property developer John Baker - formerly of Baker Lorenz, the mastermind behind 25 Hanover Square in London’s West End (the first building to break the £100 per sq ft threshold), and the rejuvenation of the Burlington Arcade in Mayfair, London, between 2006 and 2010, has launched a new venture to develop, promote and deliver a series of new business districts in South East commuter towns and outer London boroughs.

The John Baker Group is working in partnership with leading building and civil engineering contractor Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd on the major £2bn project which will see the delivery of some 2m sq ft of new office space across the South East, making it the most ambitious development of its type anywhere in the UK.

The joint venture, called The Commercial Park Group, has already acquired £20m worth of property in Crawley, Haywards Heath and Bromley in order to create a series of major business hubs.

Working with Urban Infill Architects, The Commercial Park Group has already received its first planning consent, for a 110,000 sq ft office redevelopment in Crawley, 10 minutes from Gatwick Airport. The scheme is the first phase of an ambitious plan to regenerate an entire street of ageing commercial buildings and streetscapes on Gatwick Road to create a new, 21st century business district called Gatwick Park - on the doorstep of Gatwick Airport. Furthermore, the group has today submitted a planning application for a 60,000 sq ft second phase of Gatwick Park. In total, Gatwick Park will create around half a million sq ft of new office space.

Plans and designs for Gatwick Park as well as new business hubs in Haywards Heath and Bromley, are being drawn up by Urban Infill Architects. Like the proposals for Crawley, new business hubs in Haywards Heath and Bromley will be named Haywards Park and Bromley Park respectively.

John Baker, The Commercial Park Group, said: “The South East of England continues to see an influx of skilled workers seeking a more comfortable, flexible lifestyle outside of central London. Combined with the government’s commitment to creating high quality living spaces on the outskirts of the capital, Crawley, Haywards Heath and Bromley are becoming key destinations to live and work. Gatwick Park and our projects in Bromley and Haywards Heath will create vibrant, accessible, 21st century business destinations, giving people more freedom to focus on what’s most important in their lives - whether that’s being productive at work or spending quality time with their friends and families.”

Ian Cheung, Managing Director for Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd in the South, said: “These exciting developments will provide opportunities for businesses to operate in high quality office environments and enable their staff to potentially work closer to home. This is likely to be cost effective and efficient for businesses, as well as improving the work-life balance for many.”

Ian Dollamore, Founder of Urban Infill Architects said: “This is an extremely progressive and ambitious project, not just because of the focus on providing the highest quality office environments and the rejuvenation of entire streets, but also because it’s a chance to create business destinations that will make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives. The way people live and work is constantly evolving, and the provision of this substantial new space in easy to reach locations offers a fantastic opportunity to create aspirational architecture that promotes creativity, wellbeing and satisfaction.

“More and more key professionals are increasingly calling towns like Crawley home, so we’re bringing the work to them, saving them precious time and money, and offering international businesses access to a gold standard of HQ building and a talented and productive workforce right on the doorstep.”

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