HCPS acquires Heather Farm
Most of a 17-acre site will be restored to green belt land for community, environmental and charity use following a major agreement between McLaren and Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS)
McLaren has bought the former Heather Farm mushroom farm in Chobham Road after the HCPS objected to plans at McLaren’s Woking headquarters to build a production facility for the construction of its new sports car.
HCPS was unhappy about the production facility plans at McLaren’s site in Chertsey Road, because the land is in the green belt.
When the racing giants built its headquarters in 2003, it entered into legal agreements to not carry out any further work on the land and a covenant was placed on it. Before releasing the covenant, HCPS needed a guarantee that a sufficient area of land would be made available by McLaren to compensate for the loss of open land when the production facility is built. The society suggested the solution of buying the redundant former mushroom farm site and the deal was done.
The site purchase eradicates the threat of a waste plant moving to the former farm site, which at the moment houses more than 155,000 square feet of empty industrial buildings and more than 14 acres of concrete hard standing. Surrey County Council had earmarked Heather Farm as a possible waste farm site in the Surrey Waste Plan.
David Robbins, chairman of the HCPS, said: “I am very pleased that a solution was found to what seemed to be an intractable problem.
“The members of the society have hugely supported the trustees in achieving this result.”
During the past eight months, there have been extensive negotiations between McLaren and HCPS. It is not known how much McLaren paid for the former farm site but last year it was up for sale for about £3 million. McLaren has bought the site and passed on ownership to HCPS.
The industrial buildings will be demolished and the land restored to its natural green belt state.
Paul Rimmer, estate manager for HCPS, said: “We have developed a good working relationship with the McLaren Group over the past 12 years in jointly creating McLaren Park and opening it to the public. We are pleased to be extending this partnership further in returning the disused industrial buildings and concrete hardstanding at Heather Farm back to nature.”
The existing buildings at Heather Farm were built in 1986 when in the ownership of the food giant, Heinz. At its peak, it employed more than 120 staff producing over 70 tonnes of mushrooms per week. The site closed down following the loss of a major contract with the supermarket chain, Sainsburys.
Adrian Dawes, finance director for Blue Prince Mushrooms Ltd, who owned the farm site, said he was pleased the site had been sold following its closure in May 2003.