Neal’s Yard – £4m expansion for firm’s ‘landmark’ premises
A major £4m expansion for health and beauty product manufacturer Neal’s Yard Remedies is nearing completion, extending its production, warehouse and office facilities and adding a new retail outlet, as well as upgrading existing facilities at its UK headquarters in Gillingham, Dorset.
The project included the construction of three new extensions, together incorporating manufacturing and packaging, warehousing, laboratories, offices, staff welfare facilities and a retail outlet.
Main Contractors are Henry W Pollard & Sons; architects are Boon Brown Architects, who are based in Yeovil and Battersea.
The original buildings are an iconic local landmark with a bold form featuring simple geometry and angular shapes, clad in blue GRP and natural timber. The two extensions to the factory therefore needed to retain the legibility of the original form without losing its clarity, and also feature blue GRP and timber cladding.
Craig Jones, director at Boon Brown Architects said: “Neal’s Yard is an important employer in Dorset – and particularly so to Gillingham. Our brief was to create a design for the new extensions which would complement and enhance the original iconic factory building.”
The approximately 1000m² factory extension is arranged over four different levels and is designed as a simple extrusion of the original building’s monopitch roof. It incorporates 495m² of manufacturing, packaging and support areas on the ground floor, and 300m² of offices, staff welfare and storage on the first floor. A 110m² laboratory is located on a half landing level over the manufacturing area and a 75m² store is situated at high level over the welfare facilities.
The warehouse extension is a single storey double height space comprising 275m² of warehousing and a 103m² covered loading bay. Craig Jones said: “The design of the warehouse was a greater challenge as it is located to the front of the site. We mirrored the roof shape of the original premises and added a ‘living’ wall (plants grown vertically using hydroponics on a structure attached to the wall) on the front elevation.”
Conceived as a strong design feature at the entrance to the site, a further new single storey extension has also been constructed, comprising a rectangular shaped 65m² retail outlet, together with 145m² of attached new offices located within three interlocking hexagonal buildings inspired by the honeycomb pattern used on the Neal’s Yard Remedies ‘Bee Lovely’ product range.
The extension, which is timber framed with exposed glulam beams, is clad mostly in timber and also features a scented ‘living’ wall.
Helen Cooper, managing director of Neal’s Yard Remedies said: “The new extensions continue the company ethos of sustainability and efficiency. Apart from the living wall features, the buildings are constructed to a ‘fabric first’ principle, to deliver high thermal fabric and mitigate energy use.
“The offices are passive vented with external brise soliel to reduce solar gain in summer, but attract solar warmth in the winter. Renewable energy is utilised with expansive photovoltaic panelling on the mono-pitch roofs, which is sufficient on average to power the main office area, and rain water harvesting is used extensively on site.”
Works to the original building comprise extending the manufacturing area into what was a washdown area, removing the current access to the mezzanine plant area, the addition of a new stair and high level walkway to connect the existing QC area with the new offices in the extension, and to the existing mezzanine plant area.
External works include the upgrading of staff car parking facilities requiring the modification of existing landscaping, including the introduction of new mounding and large areas of soft landscaping,.
Helen Cooper said: “The main challenge was to construct the extensions to the existing building without causing disruption to the manufacturing process. This required complex construction phasing and weekend works from time to time.”
Craig Jones said: “Despite the challenges, the scheme went well and the site team have done a good job. This has been an important project for us, as Neal’s Yard is a big name locally, and we are a local practice – so we wanted to make sure that everything went well. It was also a very interesting project to work on.”
Helen Cooper concluded: “This expansion has been developed looking ahead for up to 10 years’ of capacity planning within our factory site, as well as being able to accommodate increased numbers of office and laboratory based staff, and is a vital part of our Growth programme. As a vital employer in the local area, Neal’s Yard Remedies remain committed to our Dorset site and our outstanding teams who work there.”