What Makes Milton Park So Special?

By Guest Author Anna Fletcher, MEPC

This month we are excited to invite Anna Fletcher as our guest author. Anna has recently joined as Marketing and communications Manager at MEPC from the famous and beautifully landscaped Cotswold Wildlife Park where she worked for nine years. Anna brings with her a design and placemaking background, and an appreciation of landscapes and their impact. She writes for us an article about the importance of how recreation and leisure can successfully be integrated into a science and technology park environment.

I joined the friendly MEPC Milton Park team virtually back in January during lockdown to cover Georgina Taylor’s maternity leave. My first impressions of Milton Park were back in the heady days of tier 2 lockdown and I was struck by the sheer amount of green space.

My previous job working at the Cotswold Wildlife Park was promoting the beautiful animals and gardens meaning that I have an appreciation for all flora and fauna. On a daily basis at the Wildlife Park, I saw the positive effects of getting off screens while watching visitors discovering the beauty of nature. Nature is an amazing stress reliever and a great place to find inspiration. If I’m ever stuck on something, often a walk or a run clears the air and enables me to solve the problem.

There is a lot of synergy between the two Parks, although admittedly one is slightly ‘wilder’ than the other!

It’s great to see the many green initiatives that Milton Park is implementing such as planting swathes of wildflowers, swift boxes and duck islands, all with the goal to increase biodiversity which will encourage more wildlife to call Milton Park its home and provide our customers with a better environment. We have also evolved the Travel Forum Group into the Greener Workplace Forum which has representatives from 45 businesses across the Park working together to ensure that we can all play a part in looking after our environment.

I’m continuing to roll out the new brand that was launched at the end of 2020 to bring it inline with the Park’s impressive 2040 Vision. The large entrance totems have been rebranded and shortly, the medium size totems and road signs will be refurbished to make the signage simpler and clearer. Along side the signage project there is a map project to create a master map that better represents the green spaces and buildings to make them easier to navigate around. Further along in the year there will be a wayfinding project to signpost the many walks and cycle routes around Milton Park, yet again to make it easier for people to know how long a particular route might take, so they can enjoy some fresh air at lunchtime or hold popular walking meetings.

Article May 2021 MEPC Self-Distancing June 2020-75

Recreation and leisure space can be successfully integrated into a science park environment with forethought and good design. The key being thinking about how the space might be used as an extension of the internal office space. Providing areas where people can hold outdoor meetings, eat lunch or areas for contemplation.

In a recent survey one of the biggest things that people missed about Milton Park was the green areas and many missed walking with colleagues to grab a coffee and those serendipitous moments of meeting someone likeminded. One of the most cited reasons why companies consistently choose Milton Park and expand on the Park is the collaboration opportunity, particularly within the exceptionally strong life sciences ecosystem that has developed over the last 35 years. Recreational and leisure space have a big part to play in cross fertilisation of many of the businesses on Milton Park. My firm view is if you give people a place to mingle and wander, connections will be made. Utilising the green space for events such as Bike2Work, netwalking, outdoor classes, walks around the lagoons and nature areas are where work and life connects: literally.

Article May 2021 Milton Park landscape

Nature is our biggest ally and our greatest inspiration.’ David Attenborough

We recently unveiled Milton Park’s new flexible co-working space, the Bee House at 140 Eastern Avenue which is undergoing a transformative refurbishment and will be ready for occupation by February 2022. It’s an extension of what we already offer, a place where work and life connect, as this exciting new flexible space building will bring the outdoors inside and the inside outdoors. With a series of outdoor meetings ‘rooms’, outdoor seating amongst bee friendly wildflower planting, a new café with direct access to outside seating with native planting, the whole place is designed for having meetings outside, networking with co-workers or having five minutes’ peace. The inside will feature plants and living walls to reflect the outdoors, giving a relaxed vibe to the place.

The what3words square for the Bee House is apt, not only does it notify you of its location within Milton Park, it also describes the flexible workspace. The new café will mean that people visiting can enjoy a feast, and they can work in the cloud in a home-from-home in a connected way just like honeybees.

If that’s not inspiration from nature, I don’t know what is and it’s that which makes Milton Park such a special place.