Drawing on the past to build a brighter future

06.03.24 6 min read by Andy Smith

In Hucknall, we worked with our partner Rolls-Royce to build a successful neighbourhood reflecting the location’s strong heritage.

At Muse, we believe that an area’s rich history can form the building blocks of its future.

When we started working with Rolls-Royce to repurpose its former RAF Hucknall Airfield site in Nottingham, we knew that reflecting its illustrious history would be crucial to its future success.

The site has been at the heart of the community for close to a century and we wanted to build on that, creating a neighbourhood that continued to serve that community, creating new homes and employment for local people.

We worked together to deliver hundreds of homes, community facilities, a public park and new school, along with logistics and industrial space.

This built on nearly a hundred years of Rolls-Royce ownership, so the importance of long-term thinking, legacy-building and supporting innovation was the foundation of our joint approach.

Harrier Park Hucknall
A strong community

Ready for take-off

The historic site of RAF Hucknall witnessed the development of a number of pioneering aviation projects during the 20th century.

In World War II, the then RAF Hucknall was instrumental in perfecting the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, which subsequently powered iconic war planes like Lancaster bombers, Spitfires and P51 Mustangs. In the 1950s, this is also where the world’s first successful vertical take-off aircraft flew, and where the technology which led to the Harrier ‘Jump Jet’ was developed and refined.

Originally a Royal Flying Corps base, Hucknall Aerodrome was later shared between the RAF and Rolls-Royce, which carried out development of the Merlin and Griffon engines which powered the legendary Spitfire fighter during the Second World War.

Building on heritage

We named the business park, Harrier Park, after the world-famous Harrier jump jet, a ground-breaking vertical take-off military aircraft whose early development took place at the site and involved the design of revolutionary engine technology by Rolls-Royce.

While engine development and test flights no longer take place at Hucknall, the site remains home to part of Rolls-Royce’s aerospace supply chain, a key part of its global aerospace and power technologies activities, which employs around 800 people.

We’ve built on this history of innovation, with Harrier Park offering flexible space for light or general industrial uses, warehouse and distribution, from 40,000 to 300,000 sq ft.

Our partnership between Rolls-Royce is all about delivering an outstanding industrial and distribution space with benefits for all including employment opportunities, new environmental assets, energy efficiency and net zero carbon construction.

Occupier RM Educational Resources are now operational and part of the community at Harrier Park, with a new 200,000 sq ft headquarters and distribution space.

A sign of the times

Throughout the site’s transformation, we were determined to reference its important heritage throughout the residential community and business park.

The signage for Harrier Park celebrates the site’s rich history, modelled on a Harrier jump jet wing. Made from Cor-Ten Steel panels with studs welded on to represent aircraft wing rivets, the sign has a unique look which will change over the years taking an evolving rust-like appearance as it is exposed and reacts to weather.

Throughout the residential streets we’ve included a nod to its history. Residents buying homes here could be moving into Griffon Fields or buying a home on Flying Bedstead Way, Spitfire Way or Mustang Close.

We named the public space Merlin Park, referencing the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. This extensive area of open space we created includes play parks, SuDS drainage ponds and footpaths, cycleways and landscaping totalling approximately 3km.

Harrier Park Hucknall
Extensive public green space

A bright future

We’ve recently submitted planning applications for the next phases at Harrier Park, totalling more than 570,000 sq ft employment space in a range of buildings to meet local, regional and national employment needs with capacity to become the home for thousands of jobs.

We want to be a catalyst for further innovation, continuing the legacy of what has been seen here for nearly a century.

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