AHDB offices given go-ahead

The green light has finally been given for the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) to set up its permanent home at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Approval has been given by the Cabinet Office for the board’s preferred option of staying at Stoneleigh Park and reducing the current five buildings to two.

The approval means that AHDB is now free to negotiate the detail of an outline lease deal already discussed with LaSalle Investment Management, which is responsible for the management and development of the 1,000-acre site owned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE). This will involve two existing buildings on the site, which could then be linked together.

Tom Taylor, AHDB chief executive, said: “It has been an epic journey that started when AHDB first became operational in April 2008.

“A solution has always been high on our agenda because it represents a significant business risk to both recruiting and retaining good staff, as well as to our ability to deliver fully all the potential cost benefits and efficiencies expected by our levy payers from the merging of the five levy boards into one.”

“The biggest frustration and time commitment in all this has been all the hoops we have been made to jump through, but now for the first time, the decisions from here on in are within our own control. Up until this point we have always had several other parties involved such as AWM, Defra, HM Treasury, Government Estates or the Cabinet Office.”

The chief executive also took the opportunity to put the record straight on some of the comments about the AHDB’s original plan to build its own offices on Stoneleigh Park

He added: “During the period we were looking at the possibility of building new office accommodation on Stoneleigh Park, it always represented excellent value for levy payers. We would have been getting an £11m building for only £6m of levy investment, with the rest coming from an Advantage West Midlands grant. From a levy payer’s viewpoint that can only be an excellent deal!”

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