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Cambridge Airport could become 12,000 homes as Marshall ADG plans relocation away from city




Marshall is planning to relocate Cambridge Airport and Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group away from the city, opening up a large area of land for redevelopment.

The firm made the announcement today (Tuesday), stating it is considering three locations Cranfield in Bedfordshire, Duxford and Wyton, which are both in Cambridgeshire, for its new base.

While the move has raised concern about employment in Cambridge, the airport land could provide space for further homes - an estimated 12,000 - as well as five million square feet of business and commercial space, from 2030.

The announcement was made to the company's staff today, with the company reassuring them and customers that it would continue to invest in existing facilities and retain full focus on its growing list of contracts.

Alex Dorrian, executive chairman of Marshall, described it as the “beginning of an exciting phase for Marshall”.

Marshall has said its has three locations in mind for its new base
Marshall has said its has three locations in mind for its new base

Cambridge's Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said he was concerned about the impact the relocation could have on Marshall staff.

“This is a very important decision by one of Cambridge’s key employers,” he said.

“I am assured that a Marshall presence will be retained in the city, which I welcome as they have played a central role in the city’s economic and civic life for over a century.

“I appreciate that the company is excited by the prospects both for their aerospace and defence business on a new site; and their plans for jobs and homes on the existing airfield.

“I am concerned, however, about the impact on existing staff and the loss of highly-skilled engineering jobs in our city, and we will need guarantees that homes will be affordable and built to high environmental standards, with genuinely sustainable transport solutions in place up-front.“

Marshall, he added has emphasised its priority will be supporting and retaining its “existing valued and highly-skilled workforce” through the move.

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgehire District Council leaders said they would hold discussions with the company, ahead of a public consultation, including with adjacent communities in Cherry Hinton, Abbey and Teversham.

The councils have recently started preparatory work on the next local plan, which will guide future development.

The Marshall announcement in full

Marshall's unique engineering expertise are much in demand. Picture: MADG (10282696)
Marshall's unique engineering expertise are much in demand. Picture: MADG (10282696)

Marshall of Cambridge is pleased to be making two important, linked announcements about our exciting and ambitious plans for the future of our businesses.

We are announcing our intention to relocate our world-class Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MADG) as part of our commitment to invest in the long-term future of this unique, private company.

Linked to the announcement about the planned relocation of MADG, we can also confirm that we are putting forward the Cambridge Airport site for development as part of the next Local Plan from 2030.

We have always maintained that we will only consider these moves when we are confident that our businesses will be stronger as a result of any move, and that Cambridge will benefit from the development of the site. We believe that both of these criteria can now be met, hence these linked announcements.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has established a unique position and reputation in its markets, and we are committed to increasing our investment in the business to build on that success. To realise our ambitions beyond the existing business planning cycle, we have concluded that we need to invest in new, state-of-the-art facilities so we can continue to focus on providing exceptional service to our customers in the UK and overseas. The relocation, coupled with the development of our land in Cambridge will provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to achieve this.

Cambridge has also been hugely successful and needs to grow to sustain its world-leading status. The Cambridge Airport site spans the City boundary on the East side and we believe that, including the Marleigh development which is already underway on Newmarket Road, the site can offer the 12,000 homes originally envisaged in the Cambridge East proposals from more than a decade ago, plus some five million square feet of business and commercial space, providing the jobs necessary to make the site sustainable in the long term.

Integrated, high-speed public transport connections to the central railway station, the City Centre and other key sites in and around Cambridge will be essential to delivering such a plan and we look forward to working with the planning authorities and other stakeholders to bring forward a compelling vision for the area, including the essential public transport links.

Supporting and retaining our existing valued and highly skilled workforce is essential for us and we have been working hard to identify possible, viable relocation sites which can deliver this goal, before we could be in a position to make this announcement.

Whilst there is a great deal of work still to be done before any final decisions can be made, having started with an initial long list of possible sites within easy reach of Cambridge, we have now identified three preferred locations which could be viable sites for Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. In alphabetical order, these are: Cranfield, Duxford and Wyton.

All three sites have much to offer Marshall, although each of them also has substantial challenges which will have to be addressed before any final decision can be made. It is possible that one or more of these options may ultimately prove not to be viable. We will be progressing discussions with stakeholders for all three sites over the coming months and expect to be in a position to make an announcement sometime next year.

This is a huge undertaking which will require careful planning and we anticipate that we will complete a move by 2030. In the meantime, our complete focus is on our employees and looking after our customers. We have many significant contracts under way and have recently been increasingly successful in winning new business which will keep us busy for many years. We already have in place a substantial investment programme for the business and the Cambridge site, including the refurbishment of several of our ageing hangars, and this will not be affected by the announcements today.

Cambridge has been central to the success of Marshall over more than 100 years and the continued success of the city is important to the Company. Even when Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has relocated, our other businesses will continue to be based in Cambridge and we take seriously our commitment to be part of the community in perpetuity, working to make sure that any building on the airport site benefits Cambridge and supports its growth ambitions for generations to come.

Commenting on the announcement, Alex Dorrian, executive chairman of Marshall, said: “This is a momentous day for Marshall, when two opportunities coincide to create a launchpad for ambitious long-term plans for the future of Marshall and also for Cambridge. Our commitment to our businesses, our employees, and to Cambridge is driven directly by our shareholders. This is the beginning of an exciting phase for Marshall, during which time we will build on our success and focus ever more closely on delivering a unique Marshall experience to our customers. There is a great deal of ground to be covered before any decisions can be announced and that work is now under way. We will also be working closely with the local planning authorities as they move to the next stage of the development of the 2030+ Local Plan.”

Cambridge Airport (10307513)
Cambridge Airport (10307513)

Reaction from James Palmer, mayor of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

James Palmer, mayor of the Combined Authority, said: “This landmark announcement represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver something truly exceptional for the eastern side of Cambridge, in a bold, ambitious mixed development of homes and jobs, supported by the 21st Century public transport offered by the CAM Metro.

“In meeting with Marshall I was hugely encouraged and excited by this proposal. There is both an enthusiasm to develop a compelling masterplan and a real commitment to leaving a genuine legacy. This is about far more than simply filling the site with conventional housing.

“I welcome the prospect of a sustainable new district with its own unique identity and which will be seen as an exemplar for the rest of the world in how to develop such sites intelligently and with real flair.

“This news follows the Combined Authority’s securing of £227 million of Government funding to allow the development of the Cambridge Northern Fringe East site, which has been a long-held ambition among local leaders. Since devolution and the establishment of the Combined Authority we now are seeing the two final major brownfield sites in the Cambridge area come forward for development. Infrastructure and housing schemes being developed by the Combined Authority are all about laying the foundations to facilitate such growth and investment.

“Indeed, Marshall has referenced the development of integrated, rapid public transport, with key connections into central Cambridge and the wider area, as essential in this scheme coming forward. The CAM Metro will of course make this site a key point on the network, serving the new development with the world-class public transport that it will need to make it sustainable and deliverable. It is also an important indicator of the strength of the business case for CAM as an enabler of investment and development.

“The Combined Authority, local authorities and other stakeholders must work in partnership to support Marshall in what will be a huge undertaking. The Combined Authority is committed under the devolution deal to doubling the size of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough economy, and taking the steps needed to tackle the housing, transport and skills challenges that threaten our current strong growth. With the delivery of employment alongside much needed homes, this development has the potential to support both those aims, as well as our target of facilitating good jobs within a 30-minute journey to work.

“And on skills, Marshall has identified three sites for possible relocation of its Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MADG) business, two of which are in Cambridgeshire. I want to retain this world-class business, its workforce, and its commitment to developing skills within this county and I would like to work with them in seeing what the Combined Authority can do to support this.

“In Marshall we have a business with a proud history in Cambridge, and a track record of excellence in everything it does. It has a leadership which has always prioritised its workforce, its customers, and the community in which it operates. For all these reasons and more, we can be confident and excited about the commitment to realising the extraordinary potential of the airport site, and, just as importantly, that the future of the MADG business will be even stronger and more prosperous for its relocation.”

Look out for more coverage and reaction in the Cambridge Independent, published May 15, 2019.

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