Former Ford HQ in Brentwood set for new homes

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The former Ford headquarters in Brentwood has been bought for £40 million, with plans for more than 400 homes.

Fairview New Homes has completed the purchase of the 21-acre site on Eagle Way and plans to turn it into a new residential development, comprising both private and affordable housing.

As part of the deal the Ford central office building will be sub-sold to Land Charter Homes, to be turned into 266 flats under permitted development rights.

Remaining land within Fairview’s ownership will be used for 150 homes, meaning the Ford site is set to take considerably more homes than the 350 it was earmarked for in earlier versions of the Brentwood Borough Council local plan.

After Ford announced its plans to close its Warley headquarters in 2018, which was the centre of its UK operations for more than 50 years, the site became a key area for housing growth in the borough – the government has allocated almost 8,000 homes to be built between 2016 and 2033.

By developing an adjacent car park and the council depot to the north of the site, which would require full planning permission and a comprehensive application, Brentwood’s emerging local development plan envisages 473 homes for the area – consisting of the council depot and the larger Ford site made up of its main building and car park.

Rhys Davies, main board director for Fairview New Homes, said: “This is our second acquisition within the borough in 2019 and we are delighted with the prospect of building further new homes on this locally significant site.

“We will continue to work closely with Brentwood Borough Council to make sure our private and affordable homes are complementary to the local residential area.”

Other major allocations include 580 homes on West Horndon Industrial Park, 825 homes on land north of Shenfield, 473 split across the former Ford HQ and Warley waste depot and 300 in the William Hunter Way car park.

There area also plans for 200 homes on land off Doddinghurst Road, 100 in Brentwood railway station car park, 125 on land east of Nags Head Lane, 161 on land south of Ingatestone and 57 adjacent to the Ingatestone bypass.

Jasper Masters, executive director of CBRE, which advised Ford on the sale, said: “CBRE are delighted to have completed the sale of Ford’s flagship HQ site in Brentwood to Fairview New Homes.

“Undertaking the complex transaction was particularly impressive as it was completed against the backdrop of a difficult political landscape in early December 2019.

“The redevelopment of the iconic local landmark will provide quality new residential and commercial space which will help drive the exciting regeneration of the wider area.”

Plans by Fairview New Homes for more than 80 flats on Brentwood’s former blood donation centre have been unanimously rejected.

The Enfield-based housebuilder snapped up the 3.7-acre site on an unconditional basis from Homes England, with a price in excess of £7million.

Fairview had asked Brentwood Borough Council for permission to develop the former blood donation and test centre in Crescent Drive into 86 apartments in four separate residential blocks, ranging from two to five storeys.

The development included 106 car parking spaces.

But there were concerns over traffic as well as arguments the development – which included one, two, and three bed family units – was too big for the area and was not suitable for families with children, and the council’s planning committee rejected the application out of hand at a meeting on Wednesday, December 18.

Brentwood Council’s draft local plan only envisages 55 homes for the Crescent Drive property.

However, the plan is yet to be formally adopted and planning developers are still free to speculate on applications with far more homes than those in the plan.

Located off Crescent Drive, the centre was closed in March 2015 after the NHS Blood and Transfusions board deemed the hub surplus to requirements.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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