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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Carlisle's Story Homes to set up base at former RAF HQ

A homes firm is planning a move of its own – a £3 million flit into the former headquarters of Carlisle’s old RAF 14MU base.

Story Homes photo
Ian Storey, technical director, outside the former HQ building on the old 14MU site

Eighty staff from Story Homes will move from their current base on the city’s Burgh Road Industrial Estate to the iconic building, now part of Kingmoor Park.

Details of the major investment were revealed today as the company continues a rapid expansion that has seen it and its sister company Story Contracting create more than 250 jobs.

Staff from the contracting division are already at work refurbishing the H-shaped building, which housed key RAF personnel from the base’s opening in September 1938 but has sat empty since the site’s closure in 1997.

Story Homes chief executive Steve Errington said: “The business is expanding quickly and we have been looking to buy a new headquarters for some time as we are outgrowing our current office. We wanted a building which could accommodate our growing team in the longer term.

“Kingmoor Park as a location makes perfect sense for us because it is central to the locations we are growing into, including the north east, west and south Cumbria, Lancashire and Scotland.

“The building we have chosen is ideal because it gives us the opportunity to put our own stamp on it. We want to retain the character of the building but also make it modern and appealing for our colleagues and visitors.”

Story Homes, part of the construction group founded and still headed by former Carlisle United owner Fred Story, experienced a growth of about 60 per cent in the last financial year, with more than 40 new staff recruited to support this. Indirectly, the business also created hundreds of new opportunities through the supply chain and network of sub-contractors.

A second office was opened near Newcastle as the business expanded into new regions, while executives are confident of further growth.

The company’s new Kingmoor base, for which Architects POD have designed a modern office layout with an open-plan reception and open-plan office space, is also just a stone’s throw from its massive Crindledyke development, where more than 800 homes are being built.

Bosses hope to have their relocation to their refurbished headquarters completed by early next year.

Story Contracting will remain based at Burgh Road, with that division’s own expansion meaning it too needs more depot and office space. The relocation and investment is also another boost for Kingmoor Park, the industrial estate which has evolved from the old military base, as increasing numbers of companies set up there.

Kingmoor Park Properties chief executive Tony Goddard said: “It’s fitting that the HQ Building, which was the former centre of operations during Kingmoor Park’s Ministry of Defence heyday, is to become the head office for Story Homes, one of Cumbria’s most successful companies.”

The Story move is part of a package of deals worth tens of millions of pounds that bosses at Kingmoor hope to see through to fruition.

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