We were asked to help with the transformation of a former scrapyard into a new Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Britain Branch headquarters to facilitate the organisation’s national and international activities. The 82-acre site at West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, was purchased in 2014 and is now a live/work campus set within rural surroundings.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ London premises were spread out across a 10-mile radius of the capital, making co-ordination problematic.
To make their operation run smoother and more efficiently, the decision was made to relocate to Essex. Preparation work began on the site in 2015 with construction starting in 2016.
Sustainability is at the heart of this substantial scheme, in line with the Jehovah’s Witness belief in respecting the environment; buildings are of sustainable design and constructed with eco-friendly materials and consideration was given to issues of pollution, ecology, energy and waste.
This was a substantial project – the second largest construction scheme the organisation has undertaken – and includes administration and language translation offices, video and sound production studios, and a training auditorium. A water treatment plant and over 200 apartments to accommodate staff and guests were included in the scheme, set amid gardens, ponds and landscaped walkways.
We were asked to supply trees, hedging, herbaceous plants and shrubs for the various gardens and landscaped areas.
The site had previously been contaminated through its use as a scrapyard. An ecological management plan was drawn up and drought-resistant native planting introduced throughout the site.
In line with this, we supplied many varieties of trees, plants and shrubs for the scheme. These included more than 7,800 Prunus spinosa of various sizes, more than 3,800 Rosa canina and 2,400 Rubus fruticosus. Added to this were around 2,000 Crataegus monogyna, 1,550 Ulex europaeus, 500 each of Ulex europaeus and Primula vulgaris and 345 Ligustrum ovalifolium.
Other colourful varieties included Cotinus coggyria ‘Royal Purple’, Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ and Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’.
Our plants have enhanced the communal green areas of the development, in keeping with the philosophy of sustainability and respecting the environment.