‘Let’s keep area a shed-free zone’

Business leaders want to build a vibrant community on a giant business park to keep giant warehouse “sheds” away.

The Maylands Partnership fears the business estate, in Hemel Hempstead, could become a “warehouse city” with firms taking up huge amounts of space but employing few people.

Andy Cook, chairman of Maylands Partnership and the organisation's logo

Andy Cook, chairman of Maylands Partnership and the organisation's logo

Andy Cook, chairman of the Maylands Partnership of businesses and councils, told a breakfast meeting at Hemel One on Thursday that his firm needs the area to be vibrant.

“I need other businesses around,” said Mr Cook, chief executive of FFEI, whose company HQ was blown to bits in the Buncefield explosion in 2005.

“I do not want this to turn into warehouse city and that is what could happen here.

“It needs small businesses and big employers, we need a blend of all types of businesses.”

Mr Cook, a Dacorum resident, was inspired to take action when interviewing a candidate he really wanted to employ, who told him Hemel Hempstead “looked like Beirut.”

“We need to get up and make a change,” he said.

There are 650 businesses on Maylands, employing something like 18,000 people. The Maylands Masterplan aims to make the park more attractive to inward investors.

Mike Peacock, of Henkel, added that his company, a part of the Maylands Partnership, also “don’t want it to be a warehouse city.”

Mr Peacock said exciting redevelopment was in the pipeline, including at his own company’s base in Wood Lane End, and the nearby Catherine House.

There are also plans to redevelop the Maylands Gateway, opposite Breakspear Park, and the Heart of Maylands.

Redevelopments there are to include residential housing to keep human life in the area after everyone clears off home at the end of the working day.

“The mixed use will make sure it doesn’t become a ghost town, gets some people in and attracts shops and cafes,” said Mr Peacock.

Businesses in the estate were encouraged to do their bit and join the Maylands Partnership. For details visit www.maylands.org