Barnfield plans speculative technology development

Barnfield Construction is drawing up plans for an 80,000 sq ft expansion of the technology park anchored by Oscar-winning sound specialist AMS Neve in Burnley.

The existing 60,000 sq ft building and car park were acquired for £2m in January by a joint venture between Barnfield and Stuart Nevison, co-founder of AMS Neve. AMS leased back its 30,000 sq ft office in the building at a rent of £85,000 a year.

Plans are now being worked up for a £2.5m development of light industry and office space on the car park next to AMS Neve's office, with parking spaces moved elsewhere on the landscaped site.

Tim WebberTim Webber, chairman and managing director of Barnfield, based in Nelson, told Place: "The architect's plans will be signed off in the next four to six weeks and a planning application submitted. Subject to planning we could be on site in July.

"This is about securing the longevity of AMS Neve, a fantastic employer in the town, and attracting even more new technology industries alongside them."

The plans are supported by Mark Crabtree, co-founder and managing director of AMS Neve, which was well represented at this year's Oscars, with numerous nominated and winning films' soundtracks produced on AMS Neve mixing boards; the King's Speech, Inception, the Social Network, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, Alice in Wonderland and True Grit all using its technology.

Barnfield is working with Clitheroe-based architects Campbell Driver Partnership on the designs. The layout of the new space will see four phases of 20,000 sq ft with each building capable of being split into suites from 2,000 sq ft with mezzanines if required.

Barnfield and Nevison previously developed the 150,000 sq ft Globe Centre conference and business centre in Accrington, with a third partner, Hyndburn Council.

Barnfield has a turnover of £50m, made up of 60% from development and 40% construction, and an investment portfolio valued at £30m.

The developer is one of two shortlisted for the Weavers Triangle major mixed-use seven-acre canalside development in Burnley town centre, with a decision due from Burnley Council in the coming months.

Barnfield is also on site with a 100,000 sq ft extension to double the size of the Original Factory Shop , a discount concession specialist.

In Pendle, Barnfield is planning more developments in joint venture with Pendle Council, called Pearl, or Pendle Enterprise and Regeneration Limited, having completed the first scheme, a redevelopment of Victorian terraces , late last year.

Webber said: "We are on site with Lob Lane Mill in Brierfield which will be retained and turned into three-storey housing and new houses built alongside. In another project we are refurbishing the Shackleton Hall in Colne and taking it back to a retail arcade and office for Housing Pendle. There are various other schemes across the borough we are pursuing."

Barnfield remains the dominant developer in east Lancashire and, while it has carried out projects around the country, Webber is happy to concentrate on his home turf. He added: "We understand east Lancashire which is why the joint ventures and other complex schemes work. That may not be the case if we tried to repeat them elsewhere."

In terms of the outlook for the area in this difficult economic climate, Webber said: "It is always going to be difficult working here but it always has been difficult in our area. We have never seen the tremendous highs or terrible lows in values, the market is more steady. Now is a time for rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in. What you see is what you get here but if all the planned developments in the east Lancashire area come off and we have a great push over the next few years it could be a really good time ahead."

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