..more like water-skiing right now! But who cares - have a really lovely Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year!
All the Group companies close tonight, Friday 20th, but we are back again, refreshed and raring to go, on Thursday 2 January at 8am.
The planning application to finalise the last outstanding details (for example, the green roof and living wall) on the new offices has gone in and we now have to wait for that approval to finish the building to the high standard we are looking for. The hoarding will be replaced with palisade security fencing to match the other gate, softened with interplanting, and there will be further landscaping around the perimeter of the site. In the meantime, you might enjoy this artist's impression of what the building should look like from the bridge when all of that has been done!
After a long slog with numerous delays, we are delighted to finally be moving staff into our new office building from the beginning of June. The building will house staff from 2 of the Bourne Group of companies, namely Gardenscape and John Bourne & Co. Bourne Amenity and Bourne Sport will remain in the original office building, which itself will soon undergo an internal renovation.
As most people are aware the cladding of the building was delayed substantially as we were unable to start until the Council had approved the material that we were using, and this took over 4 months. However, we have now finished the cladding and, as you can see from this photo, the scaffolding is now coming down. Once it is down the landscaping around the new building can begin. This will involve extensive ground level planting as well as the replacement of the hoarding with new gates and security fencing.
Our aim in regards to the landscaping is to soften the building within its surrounds. Once the scaffolding comes down you will notice that one part of the building has not been clad, specifically the top part of the wall facing the bridge. This is because we hope to install a living wall on that end. If we are able to do this then it will provide a beautiful aesthetic for people arriving into Newenden across the bridge from Sussex. The wall will offer year round interest, be beneficial to the environment and hopefully attract all sorts of insects and birds.
In addition we will be doing some work on the roof. Again with a view to softening the building, we plan to plant in a variety of irrigated planters. Due to the exposure to the elements at that height we will be limited in what can be planted up there, but we are working with experts who are advising us on what we can achieve.
Both the living wall and the roof planting require a further planning application. We will be submitting this soon after the scaffolding is down, when we can start working on the visuals that we will submit with our application. For this reason neither of these elements will happen immediately. Whilst we will again be at the mercy of the Planners timetable, we hope that this will be majority finished by the Autumn/Winter of this year.
We appreciate that this has been a long process, and we have been as frustrated by this as we know many local people have. However we are excited to be moving into the offices now, and look forward to the ongoing works to improve on the visual impact of the new building and its immediate environment.
John Bourne & Co takes safety, environmental performance and haulage best practice very seriously - something our customers frequently remark upon as well. The prime way of showing our commitment is by being FORS members, and we have just had confirmation that we continue to qualify in the top tier of the scheme.
FORS - the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme - is an accreditation scheme promoting best practice for commercial vehicle operators. The aim is to drive up the standards for safety, efficiency and environmental protection and accredited members of the scheme are required to show commitment to such standards well beyond the minimum legal requirements. There are three levels: bronze, silver and gold; each requiring increasingly stringent audits and evidence.
The FORS Association manages the standard and provides training and case studies, showing how being FORS accredited helps operators across the industry. There are now over 5,000 members but fewer than 800 have so far reached the Gold level. Many delivery contracts in London, in particular, now require the operator to be FORS accredited.
John Bourne & Co were early adoptors of the scheme, in line with our commitment to delivering the highest quality of service. We reached Gold status in 2016 and have just passed our second repeat audit, confirming our Gold status for another year.
...we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas - and a Happy New Year!
Now, where's that figgy pudding....
See you in 2019!