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Finishing touches made to new £3 million business park in Langport

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: November 03, 2012

Chris Rees, owner of the £3-million Willows at Westover business  park in Langport, which is already home to a variety of wildlife

Chris Rees, owner of the £3-million Willows at Westover business park in Langport, which is already home to a variety of wildlife

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Final touches are being made to a £3 million business park in Langport which has been 23 years in the making.

The Willows at Westover is a four-and-a-half acre “eco-sympathetic” employment area just 400 yards along the river bank from the centre of the town.

Landowner Chris Rees, 75, who has been working on the project for more than two decades, says sites will be marketed to businesses in March next year.

At the centre of the site is a wildlife pond, one of the first features created at the development in 1990, and now teeming with wildlife.

Mr Rees said it was a “typical Somerset wetlands location.”

He said: “We aim to ensure that the final product is fitting tribute to the beauty of the site and in keeping with our committed objective – which is to produce for Langport a work location that is inspiring to its occupants and relaxing, calm and totally appropriate to its setting.”

Mr Rees said the location would appeal to young, forward-looking people working in creative, “knowledge-based”, or start-up businesses.

He also said the natural site could inspire crafts people and would be a good place for a city-based business to relocate its staff.

The wetland is already home to roe deer, toads, shrews, rabbits and voles. The site is also designed to be suitable for bats and nesting birds and Mr Rees hopes it may attract cranes, which have been reintroduced to the Somerset Levels this year.

The development nearly became a victim of its own ecological success when an investigation was needed to find if any great crested newts, a protected species, were on the site.

Mr Rees said: “We’d created this environment from a rough, old brown-field site but if we had found the newts we would have had to take steps to mitigate the impact on them.

“We do have some perfectly normal newts but not any great crested ones.”

Three plots will be offered for businesses to create bespoke premises, although they will have to conform with Mr Rees’ broad vision for the site. When the buildings are completed, Mr Rees predicts they could house more than 100 workers.

He said: “We provide the basic infrastructure and site. At the moment we are putting together some computer-generated images of what could be done at the site.”

Mr Rees said he was confident the site would draw in businesses as the economy recovers from recession.

He said: “In my view this is the ideal time.

“Bringing employment of 100 plus people to Langport will bring nothing but positives to the community.”

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