Owner of major business park development creating hundreds of jobs revealed
By Andrew Merrell | 5th December 2019
Mystery no longer surrounds who is behind the scheme to develop a new business park in the Forest of Dean, creating 400-plus jobs.
Everyone in the village of Longhope will know the site, off the A4136 Monmouth Road east out of Mitcheldean, but until now perhaps not who now owns it.
And everyone from the world of haulage, and many beyond, will know the name Richard Read Transport and that the family firm which closed earlier this year after 73 years with the loss of nearly 50 jobs.
What they might not know have known until Punchline reported on it in November was that shortly before the firm shut up shop it won planning permission to re-develop the site into a business park with more than 10,000 square foot of light industrial, general industrial and storage space.
Plans approved by the Forest of Dean District Council talk of potentially 409 full time jobs being created on the site.
We can now reveal the new owners of the site as Gloucestershire businessmen Dr Roger Head, OBE, and Jim Ruddy.
Dr Head, a well-known member of the county's business community, said: "As local investors, we saw the potential of the site, and intend to start as soon as possible on what will be a multi-million pound refurbishment."
Mr Ruddy said: "We will be offering refurbished and new units from 1,500 sq ft upwards, we already own a number of industrial estates and are pleased to add this to our portfolio."
To be renamed Longhope Business Park, the project is to be headed up by company director, Grant Ruddy who joins Head Ruddy Ltd after 15 years' experience with Barnwood Construction.
Gloucester-based agents Bruton Knowles submitted the original application on behalf of Richard Read Transport, which outlined how the site - currently home to the buildings fronting the road and two to the rear - would almost double to 2.10 hectares.
A report to the district council's planning committee by its own officers called the scheme a "major development".
The proposal is for the construction of commercial units on this site "with illustrative schemes demonstrating how 18 B1 units combining a total of 5,320sq m or two B8 of a total of 4,720 sqm can be accommodated".
"The proposal includes the provision of modified vehicular access into the site via a modified entrance point off the A4136 in the north-east corner."
Robert Smith is based within Bruton Knowles' Gloucester office. He said: "We are delighted to have co-ordinated the sale of the former Richard Read depot. Our commercial property team utilised its invaluable knowledge and experience to secure a sale in a short timeframe, while ensuring a smooth process for all parties involved.
"The former owners wish the purchasers every success for the future with their plans for the property. The site has huge potential and with Roger Head and Jim Ruddy at its helm, it has a very exciting future ahead becoming a new business park."
A letter to the council from Longhope Parish Council's clerk, Andrew Maliphant, said it had "no objection to this proposal".
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