On a very wet, autumnal October day, I ventured down to Bedfordshire to our new Village, Woburn Forest, and it really is looking grand. If you didn’t peek through the window of lodge 100, you would be convinced that guests were about to arrive.
When walking by some of the completed clusters, a construction worker stopped me. He was keen to tell me all about the wildlife he had spotted, including deer, birds and squirrels. It’s great to see the forest is flourishing, from its history as commercial woodland that cut down its trees for sale.
The hard work of our Ground Services Manager, Ian Buck, is really paying off. Over the past year, Ian has been protecting the forest during construction, planting more than 20,000 native trees and shrubs and managing the bracken, as this tends to harm the wildlife. We also have a record of every species seen on site so we have an idea of the type of creatures and plants what will thrive here in the future.
Progress being made
While wandering around the bottom end of The Plaza, I could just see the beginnings of the Aerial Adventure course being built; it’s looking quite high so I think you’ll need real nerves of steel for that one! The Lake is coming along swimmingly (pardon the pun).
Having seen it as a sandy pit for many months, it was great to see insects hovering around the water’s edge over the past couple of months; no doubt the extra water over winter will continue to attract more nature.
“Over the past year, Ian has been protecting the forest during construction, planting more than 20,000 native trees and shrubs”
As each building is completed, the contractor hands the building over to Center Parcs. Now that the first of them – the housekeeping building – has been handed over to us from the contractors, some of the Woburn Forest team are already stationed there. I recently found out that meetings on the Village sometimes take place in what we call the ‘bucket room’. This is actually where the housekeepers will collect their bucket of cleaning products from, so the team really are using the space they have as best they can!
More than 100 people are now on board the Woburn Forest team with hundreds of jobs being recruited for. I have seen housekeeping, leisure and food and beverage roles popping up on the careers website over the past few weeks and there are many more to come yet. The HR team are hard at work finding the right people to run Woburn Forest once finished and it is hoped that by February, all 1,500 people will have been hired.
We are also continuing our involvement in the local community; Wayne Matton, the General Manager, gave a talk to Ampthill Chamber of Commerce to update the group on the progress of the project and to answer questions. We have also donated £848 this month alone to local causes near Woburn Forest, including a lower school that is using the money to create a conservation area – I can’t wait to see it once it’s finished.
My next visit to site is in November, when the main buildings should be watertight – just in time for winter!
See you next time,