Avro Heritage was a property acquisition business venture established by JCB heir Jo Bamford Cheshire-based businessman Harry Harvey.
The company was created to complete the acquisition of Woodford Aerodrome, a BAE Systems owned site in Cheshire steeped in history.
Woodford Aerodrome is a 500-acre site steeped in UK aviation history and, since the 1920s the site has produced some of Britain’s most famous military aircraft including the Lancaster bomber, the Vulcan and the Nimrod.
Following a Government decision in 2011 to shelve the Nimrod program, the site’s owner, BAE Systems, announced it would close, leaving 600 people redundant and concern as the sites future use.
Avro Heritage agreed to purchase the site to develop housing and a number of community ventures, including the creation of a museum to reflect the history and heritage of the site.
Onside PR were tasked with managing the public face of Avro Heritage, which included media, marketing and community liaison.
This was to ensure ensuring smooth delivery of the project, providing community liaison, delivery of messaging to key stakeholders, the media and to lead discussions with commercial partners, council officials, and members of the public.
Given Mr Bamford’s public profile and position within JCB our role to minimise public exposure. This was a personal project of Mr Bamford’s and not related to JCB activities.
Onside PR was responsible for the management of media interest and the interests and expectations of the public.
This included the representation of Avro Heritage and the owners of the business at all levels from matters of public engagement to professional representation.
As well as media consultation, reputation management this also initially included the management of day-to-day operations at Woodford Aerodrome.
Onside PR represented Avro Heritage and it’s owners in meetings with councillors, public bodies and the general public.
Onside PR worked closely with the BAE Systems Communications team during the initial hand-over period and created a Communications Strategy for the business moving forward.
Onside PR managed all third-party activity on site, including the utilisation of the site as a film and photographic location, working with the BBC on the Racing Legends series.
During the phase between acquisition and planning the site was utilised for various filming and promotional activities and was targeted by Hollywood film executives exploring it’s potential as a studio.
Avro Heritage completed the successful acquisition of the site and planning permissions were ultimately secured for 950 new homes.
Media interest was controlled and Mr Bamford was exposed to minimal media coverage until the deal was completed and Avro Heritage owned the site.
Avro Heritage formed a joint venture with Harrow Estates, part of Redrow Homes and work began on site in January 2015, demolishing the existing hangers, buildings and recycling the runway and building work began creating Woodford Garden Village.