Business parks

Skolkovo Business Park


Attempts at the end of the 19th century to separate housing from industry gradually led to the development of purpose- built ‘industrial estates’.

Some of the most notable of these, such as Trafford Park near Manchester and Team Valley in Durham, were built in the early 20th century on greenfield sites with good connections to rail and (when possible) water networks. Although some office and ancillary facilities were provided (e.g. catering), these were seen as adjuncts to the main purpose, namely providing factory facilities, generally for light industry, in modern buildings.

Over the last 30 years or so, the emphasis has switched away from providing light industrial units to providing a range of buildings suitable for a variety of purposes: offices, light industrial, high technology (e.g. manufacture or assembly of electronic components).

The term ‘industrial estate’ was considered to be unsuitable, although it is interesting to note that this term was itself invented to indicate a better level of provision than the normal Victorian factory premises. The phrase ‘business park‘ therefore replaced ‘industrial estate’.

In business parks a high level of building services is often considered essential, together with building designs which can be adapted for a variety of uses relatively easily. Flexible space is required to meet the needs of production, distribution, sales, service and office

operations. Soft landscaping, sometimes to a high standard, is often provided, along with related facilities such as quality catering and health clubs. If the developer is also looking for occupation by international companies, extra facilities will be required, such as hotel accommodation. There will be an overall master plan, but each individual building can have its own design.

Further refinements in terminology have led to ‘commerce parks’, which attempt to provide facilities between industrial estates (i.e. traditional manufacturing) and business parks (i.e. offices). These sites attempt to provide a greater mix of uses than traditionally available, often resulting from the revolution in information (or ‘knowledge-based’) technology.

Recent concern by local authorities and planners that greenfield sites can be isolated from local communities have led to attempts to provide a range of uses: for instance, housing arranged to provide a village atmosphere, together with community facilities, shops and schools (see 1).

1- Technology Parks in London (mid-1 990s) (from Segal Quince & Wicksteed Ltd, Technology Parks in London) 

Good connections to the road network, particularly motorways, are considered essential; it is rare in the UK for there to be connection to the rail network, and even rarer for connections to the canal or river network. Car parking provision must therefore be generous, as bus services may be few.

Access will also be required for large lorries (for lorry sizes, see the sections on Vehicle Facilities and Industrial Buildings), which require larger roads and turning bays.

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