RSPCA headquarters near Horsham sold in major deal

Plans are being drawn up to convert the RSPCA headquarters near Horsham into a multi-million-pound industrial site.

The 6.2 acre RSPCA land at Wilberforce House in Southwater has been bought by Legal & General on behalf of its Industrial Property Investment Fund.

Now with partner Graftongate – a commercial real estate developer – Legal & General says it plans to “speculatively develop a prime multi-unit industrial/logistics scheme.”

The proposed scheme would see the development of seven new warehouses with office space.

It is planned to build seven warehouses and offices on the site of the current RSPCA headquarters in Wilberforce Way, Southwater

Meanwhile, the RSPCA is planning to relocate to smaller premises following more staff working from home since the start of the pandemic.

Legal & General says it will be “one of the most strategic development sites in West Sussex” and it expects it will “generate significant interest from prospective occupiers.”

The RSPCA says it expects to remain in the building until March next year.

A spokesperson said: “As a result of the pandemic, feedback from our staff was that for those where their role allows, eg office based support functions, that they would like to work more flexibly including from home.

"In response we have sold our office building in Southwater and will be relocating to smaller offices nearby.

“The Southwater office has sold and will be developed to provide energy efficient industrial and office space.

"The new owners are committed to having as little environmental impact as possible while the site is developed and during its future operation.

“As part of our drive to become a more modern and sustainable organisation, we will move to a smaller, rented building, which will significantly reduce our running costs.

"These savings will be refocused to our vital animal welfare work.

"A new office will allow us to be closer to rail links, reduce our carbon footprint, and make us more accessible to a more diverse pool of candidates when we are recruiting.

“We are still exploring options for our future office and will remain in the Southwater building until March 2023.”

The RSPCA , the largest animal charity in the UK, has had its headquarters at Southwater since the early 1990s, having previously moved from London to Horsham.

The RSPCA Southwater site was originally put up for sale last September with an asking price of £8,470,000.

Legal & General senior fund manager Jonathan Holland said: “The purchase presents an excellent opportunity to acquire a development site to provide Grade A industrial stock in a supply constrained market and a sector where occupational demand is booming, and rental growth is set to follow.

"On expiry of the lease, this will be one of the most strategic development sites in West Sussex.”

Graftongate development manager Alex Thomason said: “The redevelopment of the Wilberforce House estate offers an excellent opportunity to deliver high quality industrial/logistics accommodation in an established commercial location.

"The property occupies a prime position on Wilberforce Way and benefits from excellent transport links, being easily accessible via the A24 dual carriageway.

"We expect the scheme to generate significant interest from prospective occupiers.”