Valley is open for business after the floods

Duncan Cooper, of Calderdale Council; landlord Heidi Bingham, Councillor Barry Collins and Kevin Baldwin from MUD UK.
Duncan Cooper, of Calderdale Council; landlord Heidi Bingham, Councillor Barry Collins and Kevin Baldwin from MUD UK.

A business park in the upper Calder Valley is helping flood-hit businesses to grow after the devastating events of Boxing Day 2015.

The Craggs Country Business Park, Cragg Vale, began life as eight derelict turkey sheds, but now employs around 100 people and has been transformed into a high quality, modern site.

The Craggs Country Business Park

The Craggs Country Business Park

Landlord Heidi Bingham bought the site five years ago and businesses soon began to move in, but just over a year ago three of the agricultural buildings still needed to be converted.

A slow property market meant Heidi wanted pre-lets before risking investment in the conversions, but this meant that potential occupiers only had derelict wooden shells to view.

This discouraged them and prevented development - but Calderale Council’s site unlocking scheme soon helped to change that.

The aim is to transform empty or unused sites into business units to house Calderdale’s growing firms, attract new businesses from within and outside the borough and create new jobs.

A one-year business rate discount was awarded by the council to the three units to increase the developer’s confidence in letting them. Refurbishment soon began, giving prospective tenants a chance to see the potential of the business park and leading to the space quickly becoming fully occupied.

Heidi said: “Pre-letting derelict buildings before renovating them was a big risk and the council’s business rates discount made all the difference.

“Being able to offer financial help to potential tenants doubled the speed of the business park’s progress, enabling both me as the developer and tenants to take a leap of faith.

“I’m delighted with the business park – there’s lots of character, unrivalled views, good links to the motorway, a brilliant mix of firms – some trading worldwide – a real business community and a great apprenticeship scheme – we won the National Apprenticeships Awards in the Newcomer SME of the Year category last month. And being able to help flooded businesses has made it even more worthwhile.”

The floods prompted the growth of Make Solutions, as the business took on contracts and staff from another family company, Halifax Wireform, which had closed down after being flooded.

Blazing Saddles has kept its cycle shop in Hebden Bridge, but since it was flooded it has expanded and now runs a test ride centre from a second site at the business park.

And after being flooded and losing stock, VisioSound has now also settled into the business park.

Kevin Baldwin from MUD UK – one of the new unit occupiers and exporter of Land Rover products worldwide – has benefited from the business rates discount and said: “Moving to the Craggs Country Business Park has doubled the amount of space compared to our previous location, meaning we can order and store more products and benefit from lower unit costs. The business rates discount has been a massive help and has allowed us to grow without the financial impact of higher rates.”