CEO, Nicholas Bewes shares how developing places with purpose leads to positive change for generations to come.
As we were planting the saplings for the new urban orchard at Unity Campus, it struck me how far we’d come on the journey to transform a once un-loved contaminated site to a safe, sustainable environment where people work, meet and thrive.
The site on which Unity Campus is being established was, in the past, a fully functioning tannery of Eastern Counties Leather. Dating back to the 1800s, the tannery provided much-needed employment for the residents of Sawston and Pampisford. However, the tanning of animal hides was a polluting business, and much of the ground became contaminated.
As responsible stewards of our family business, we are committed to nurturing it for future generations and since acquiring the site, we have been undertaking a major programme of remediation including removing contamination from the estate.
Tree planting is also a key component of the Unity Campus sustainability and biodiversity programme, and the tree-planting ceremony to mark the founding of the orchard, was another step towards improving the environment and creating a place for Unity Campus members and visitors to access nature.
I was delighted that HM Lord Lieutenant Julie Spence OBE planted the first apple tree. The trees are planted in the shape of a crown in memoriam to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as part of ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy’ initiative. Julie commented that it was a thoughtful memorial to Queen Elizabeth and a great space for people working on the Campus to relax in.
That’s also something we are passionate about; creating places where people genuinely enjoy working. The orchard saplings will grow and not only provide a place of remembrance, but will also become a place of contentment and wellbeing for staff of Unity Campus based companies.
Many people based on Campus work long hours in their laboratories and offices, so our masterplan for the Campus includes the creation of a range of outdoor spaces where they can take time-out and benefit from green space and fresh air.
The biodiversity improvements will also encourage a host of wildlife for nature-lovers. We have recently welcomed our first colonies of bees to Unity Campus and are looking for ways to enrich biodiversity in the years’ ahead.
In years to come by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the trees will play their part in helping to combat climate change, improving soil and air quality, and preventing flooding and erosion.
As the current stewards of the Howard Group family business, it is our responsibility to protect and enhance what we have been entrusted with. The tree planting itself was a wonderful experience and is just one of many ways we are putting down deep roots that will provide solid foundations for generations to come.