Bright future ahead for Virgin Atlantic training site in Crawley

A familiar part of Crawley’s business landscape has a bright future ahead after being sold to developers for £30m.

The Virgin Atlantic Training Facility, The Base on Fleming Way
The Virgin Atlantic Training Facility, The Base on Fleming Way

The Base on Fleming Way in the Manor Royal Business District, which is currently used by Virgin Atlantic as a training facility, has been bought by Pictet Alternative Advisors and Marchmont Investment Management.

Virgin Atlantic have been there since 1999 but recently put the site on the market following the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry

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Virgin will remain at The Base for the next 18 months and when they have leave in 2021, Pictet and Marchmont plan to redevelop the entire site to provide 225,000 sqft of ‘logistics space.’

Pictet and Marchmont described Crawley as a ‘key South East market’.

Clare Silva, Operations Manager of the Manor Royal BID, said: “Virgin have been on Manor Royal since the mid-1990s and we are glad they intend to keep their headquarters here.

“They took possession of the Base in 1999 and we are sad to see the COVID pandemic bring an abrupt end to their operations there.

“Looking ahead the speedy acquisition of the 10-acre site demonstrates how desirable Manor Royal is and we look forward to working with the developers who will create much needed space for the next generation of Manor Royal companies.”

The long white building which has been a feature at the site for 60 years will eventually go and likely to be replaced by a collection of high quality smaller units to house numerous new companies.

Virgin Atlantic feet had previously used it as a state-of-the-art training facility for cabin crew.

It was home to training rigs, a life size mock-up plane, escape shoots, numerous class rooms, a beauty salon, an auditorium, a staff shop and restaurant areas.

The Base’s training facilities were even used in the 2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace filming a scene recreating the upper class lounge bar of a Virgin Atlantic flight.

The site was previously used by US pharmaceuticals company Upjohns Pharmaceuticals from 1957 to 1998. They employed around 500 staff including scientists, doctors, teachers, nurses and chemists, making and testing new and existing drugs.