From Making to Moving: Mountpark Southampton.30th Jul 2018
“This new development is exceptionally important for the city,” said Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council at the launch of Mountpark Southampton in October 2016. “The site has been retained for employment use and will generate future employment opportunities for residents of Southampton.”
Since 1939, the Swaythling site had produced aircraft parts, motor parts and Ford Transit vans. By July 2013, all Ford Transit production had moved to Turkey and the factory closed. Then in December 2015, Mountpark acquired the site as an industrial and logistics park, starting on site in January 2017.
By the time the first phase of the development reached practical completion in November 2017, we had let all three units – 47,250 sq ft, 60,000 sq ft and 100,660 sq ft – to Murray Health & Beauty, Berendsen and CooperVision.
Encouraged by this success, we are progressing the second phase of the park, which will provide a further 341,040 sq ft of logistics space in four units from 67,500 sq ft to 180,110 sq ft. These new speculative distribution centres will complete in autumn 2018 and are already attracting a great deal of interest.
As the site is transformed, Mountpark Southampton is living up to the Council’s expectations and is set to bring around 1,200 jobs to the local area.
Capturing the Past
While employment is a priority, the history of the Mountpark Southampton site is also important. Local volunteers have been working on a National Lottery funded project, Transition: from Fields to Ford and beyond that celebrates Swaythling’s contribution to Southampton’s industrial heritage. The project resulted in a pop-up museum and educational website, which we were happy to support.
Alongside the Transition project, we commissioned artist Isabella Martin to create an easily accessible public artwork that maps Mountpark Southampton’s entire 11,700 year history. The work consists of 20 polished steel signs that run along Wide Lane and record a history of movement at the site. Each sign features an action verb that summarises a particular episode and these are arranged in chronological order.
The shape of the individual signs is inspired by the rounded rectangular front grill of the Ford Transit van, while the yellow posts reflect the machinery fencing that was used throughout the Ford Motors factory. The font goes further back, echoing the lettering on RAF aircraft, which were assembled at the site during World War II.
By 1940, the site was recognised as important to the British war effort and it was bombed by the Luftwaffe. A number of workers were killed in these raids, so Mountpark has installed a plaque that records their names. This installation stands alongside the wartime artwork signs, making sure that those who lost their lives are remembered as part of the site’s history.
Looking to the Future
Mountpark Southampton is our first development in the city, which with its road, sea and air connections is an ideal logistics location. We are delighted that it is proving to be so popular with occupiers and that we are forging a role in the city’s future.