Main Contractor Appointed For Norman House

The Duchy of Lancaster has appointed Osborne Construction as the main contractor for the redevelopment of Norman House on the Strand. The scheme is a major refurbishment of the original 1920s building with the addition of two new storeys to the front of the property, three to the rear and the introduction of two large terraces.

Family firm Osborne will take charge of the construction works. The project is scheduled to start on site at the beginning of February 2019 and complete by autumn 2020. Once finished, the scheme will provide first-class office accommodation, restaurant and retail space in the heart of the Savoy estate.

Commenting on the progress to date, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “This is a tremendously exciting project which has the support and backing of Westminster City Council and the Duchy Council. The net result will be a new signature building on the Strand offering high quality office space on the upper floors and ground-floor retail space. We have already agreed our first pre-let and anticipate continued high levels of interest before we complete in the autumn of 2020.”

The full project team appointed to carry out the works on Norman House include architects ORMS, project managers Quartz, structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel and mechanical and electrical engineers Hoare Lea.

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New Lease of Life for Disused Farm Buildings

The Duchy of Lancaster has formed a joint venture with award-winning housebuilder Francis Jackson Homes to transform a number of disused agricultural buildings on its Higham Ferrers estate in Northamptonshire into a small residential development.

Five individually designed homes will be created on Bidwell Lane in the village of Caldecott, just 2 miles from the centre of Rushden. Using traditional materials and built in a vernacular architectural style, each of the family homes will be finished to the high quality standard required by the Duchy under its design guide and interior specification.

Commenting on the scheme Duchy Head of Project Management Graeme Chalk said: “Higham Ferrers is one of the oldest estates in the Duchy’s portfolio and we take our responsibility to these historic assets extremely seriously. We are keen to see these unused buildings brought back to life, adding to the appeal of the surrounding environment and providing high quality homes for local people. Francis Jackson Homes has built up a reputation for the care and attention to detail they bring to their designs, making them the perfect partner for the Duchy on this project.”

Planning for the scheme was obtained in November 2018 and work is scheduled to start on site in Spring 2019, with completion by the summer of 2020. The finished units are expected to sell for

between £300,000 (for the semi-detached homes) to £850,000 (for the largest detached farmhouse).

Higham Ferrers has been part of the Duchy of Lancaster’s ancient inheritance since 1266 when Henry III confiscated the lands of Robert Ferrers (Earl of Derby) and gifted them to his son Edmund Crouchback. Today the Northamptonshire estate covers some 818 hectares and forms part of the modern Duchy’s Southern Survey.

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Duchy Continues To Strengthen Core Team

The Duchy of Lancaster continues to invest for the future by strengthening its administrative support teams in both London and Lancaster.

Accounts Assistant Sally Davies joins Rural Accountant Ralph Whitehead in the Lancaster office which has now taken over the responsibility for financial management of all Rural Surveys and tenancies following the decision to bring estate management back in hand earlier in the year.

In January, the Northern Rural team will be further supported by a newly appointed Rural Administrator. Jane Norris is an experienced PA and administrator who joins the team after 14 years’ service with the Vice-Chancellor’s office at Lancaster University.

Genevieve Norris has also been appointed to assist in the London office working with Senior PA Clare Wesley and PA to the Head of Rural and Head of Project Management Zoe Roome. Genevieve is a recent graduate who studied law at the University of East Anglia before moving to London.

Commenting on the appointments CEO Nathan Thompson said: “We are delighted that Sally, Jane and Genevieve have decided to join the Duchy. We are a small team who work very closely together and we need people who have not only the right technical skills but who also demonstrate our core values and culture. I know that these three individuals will add value to the business and look forward to working with them as we continue to build for the future.”

Sally took up her post at Lancaster Castle in September last year and Genevieve was appointed to the London office in December. Jane joined the team based in the Duchy’s Northern office at Lancaster Castle in January 2019.

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Grown in Britain: Responsible Woodland Management

In a further demonstration of our commitment to environmental sustainability, the Duchy of Lancaster is backing the Grown in Britain (GiB) campaign with all of its rural woodlands accredited under the scheme.

Some 2,818 acres of Duchy-owned woodland in Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire have been certified by GiB, a non-for-profit organisation which aims to protect and promote British woods and forests. The Government-backed scheme seeks to ensure a sustainable future for UK forests and woodlands, protecting their natural environments and wildlife habitats whilst providing local employment and supporting the rural economy.

Much of the Duchy’s historic woodland originated from the Royal hunting parks of the past, including that at Needwood Forest and the Forest of Bowland. Today, some 1,815 remaining acres are actively maintained as part of the Duchy’s ongoing rural estate management.

Commenting on the Grown in Britain initiative Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “Our indigenous species mean that we can produce timber which is of an extremely high standard, durable and strong. If we are serious about protecting our natural landscape and wildlife habitats we need to actively manage our woodland so that they not only survive but continue to thrive. Certification schemes such as these are key in recognising both the quality of the timber and the standard of environmental management in our woodlands.”

This is the latest in a series of environmental management initiatives introduced by the Duchy over the last 24 months. In 2016 it commissioned a detailed bio-diversity audit across all its rural estates and last year hosted a series of tenant workshops on responsible soil management. Under the current licensing agreement, the Duchy has signed up to Grown in Britain for the next 5 years.

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Encouraging Sporting Excellence

The Duchy of Lancaster continues to support the provision of sports facilities and infrastructure on its historic Higham Ferrers estate with an agreement in principle to the letting of 11 acres to football club AFC Rushden & Diamonds. This follows agreement for an extended lease term and additional land for existing tenants Higham Town FC and the granting of a new lease to the Northamptonshire FA.

The 30-hectare site in question is adjacent to the B645 Chelveston Road in Rushden and already includes the Moulton College campus. In October this year, the Duchy also agreed to release 5.5 acres for the building of a new free school for students with special educational needs.

Commenting on the agreement, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “The Duchy is very keen to support local residents by supporting the development of sports and educational infrastructure. This is a large parcel of land and we are working closely with our existing tenants Moulton College and Higham Town FC to ensure that we can accommodate their plans for future growth. We welcome this approach from AFC Rushden & Diamonds which should complement the existing provision of community based football with a more performance focused offering and create a hub for sporting and educational excellence on site.”

AFC Rushden & Diamonds was formed by supporters as a ‘phoenix club’ in 2011. Run by supporters, its ethos is “one fan, one vote, one community, one club” and it has been searching for a permanent home since its inception. The proposed lease provides for an initial 30-year term with scope for future expansion.

Chairman of AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ralph Burditt said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Club. Matters have reached this stage following years of hard work in searching for a permanent home for AFC R&D. It is something upon which we have been focused from day one and allows us to plot a roadmap for the next stage of the Club’s development. We are very excited about the next few years and working with other key stakeholders in the local area to provide a football facility that East Northants can be proud of.”

The Higham Ferrers estate extends across 818 hectares centred on Higham Ferrers and Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Part of the ancient inheritance, it has belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster since the 13th century.

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